Andre Dawson entered the Baseball Hall of Fame this weekend wearing a Montréal Expos cap on his plaque, prompting Federal Baseball’s Patrick Reddington to wonder if Washington Nationals are doing enough to recognize their former incarnation (DC SB Nation). Reddington lives in New Jersey and has followed the team since they were the Expos.
My take — they don’t need to do anything.
Washington D.C. had a MLB team for 71 years of the 20th century and while it was not terribly successful, it had its share of history. The Nats, owned by D.C. natives, recognize this (though they could do more) with the expansion Senators curly W (more or less), statues, pennants above the scorebaord for the 1924 World Champions and the 1925 and 1933 A.L. champions, etc. all brought into the fold.The Homestead Grays, who played in Washington for parts of their seasons in the 1940s, are recognized too. That is the D.C. baseball heritage. What the Expos did belongs in Montréal, not here. Frankly, given the changes to the franchise since then — owners and name specifically, plus most of the personnel on and off the field, there is very little linking the Nats back to the Expos other than a spot in the NL East.
I cannot think of another franchise that links back to their previous city and nickname. Sure, the Dodgers and Giants acknowledge that they played in New York City, but given the lack of a name change and the continuation of that rivalry, it makes sense. To a lesser extent, the A’s and Braves acknowledge their former homes, but overall they focus on their current locations. I do not believe that the Minnesota Twins acknowledge that they were the original Washington Senators. The Texas Rangers probably don’t mention they were the expansion Senators and I know the Baltimore Orioles don’t think of themselves as the former St. Louis Browns.
A while back Church of Baseball wrote , “The only connection Dawson has to the Washington Nationals is corporate. That’s it. There’s no sacred bond, no soul.” Indeed, it would be weird honoring somebody who never played here and may be best remembered as a member of the Chicago Cubs, not the Expos. Dawson was honored in Montréal, along with several other Expos, by the NHL’s Canadiens several years ago. Montréal is a wonderful city that I enjoyed visiting;the fans there deserved a better fate than they got from MLB. I think Washingtonians respect that and realize that the Expos history belongs there. Honoring Dawson here would be awkward; I hope he can get honored in the city whose cap is represented on his plaque.
UPDATE: Reports indicate that the Nats will have an Andre Dawson Night on August 10 when the team he works for now, the Florida Marlins, are in town. Perhaps the Lerners and Stan Kasten saw an opportunity to bring in a lot of Cubs fans.