The franchise now known as the Washington Nationals came into the league as the Montreal Expos, an expansion team in 1969 along with the city of San Diego. The Expos were owned by Charles Bronfman of Seagram’s distilling. Their first ever game was on April 8, 1969 against the New York Mets at Shea Stadium which they won 11-10. Six days later the team would play its first ever Home Game against the St. Louis Cardinals, which they won with a score of 8-7. It was two weeks later that pitcher Bill Stoneman pitched a no-hitter, the first for the franchise.
In 1978, pitcher Ross Grimsley wins his 20th game of the season. This is the first and only Expo’s pitcher to date to reach that mark. A year later, the Expos’ experienced their first back to back to back home runs (Tony Perez, Gary Carter and Ellis Valentine). The team’s one and only championship came in 1981 when they clinched the NL East.
One of the most notable players in baseball took the field for the Expos in 1984 as Pete Rose joined the team in April. For his 4,000th career hit, Rose doubled off his former team and Jerry Koosman. The hit tied Ty Cobb and Rose became only the second player to join the 4000 hit club.
In 1991, team owner Charles Bronfman sold the team to a consortium of owners led by Claude Brochu who held control of the team until control of the team was sold to Jeff Loria in 1999. MLB stepped in 2001 when Loria failed to build a new ballpark. MLB Owners then bought the team from Loria who turned around and assumed ownership of the Miami Marlins.
In September of 2004, MLB announced the Expos franchise would move to Washington DC the following year with a 28-1 vote from team owners. The franchise changed their name to the Nationals. MLB then sold the team to Lerner Enterprises, a group led by Theodore N. Lerner.
In 2007, the team hired Manny Acta to his first managerial position and both the pitching and team defense improved dramatically. After getting off to a strong start in 2008 the team went through a number of injuries (15 players) that kept the team far below average. The team logged 102 games. Acta kept his team competitive and earned votes for the NL Manager of the year (6th place finish). Then following a 5-0 loss to the Houston Astros, the franchise fired him and placed bench coach Jim Riggleman at the interim. His contract was picked up by the franchise and runs through the 2011 season.
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