Did You Know New England ‘Almost’ Got a Second Major League Baseball Team in 2003?
Editor's note: This article was written by a Townsquare Media Northern New England contributor and may contain the individual's views, opinions, or personal experiences.
As baseball fans in New England watch the once-mighty Red Sox stumble, it’s easy to wish we had a second team in the region to keep us entertained. And 20 years ago…we almost did.
The proposed Montreal-to-Boston overnight railroad brought back memories of 2003, when the Montreal Expos supposedly considered relocating to Fenway Park for a season or two while their final destination was being decided. It would have been the first time since the Braves played at what’s now Boston University in the 1950s that Boston had two Major League Baseball teams.
The idea first surfaced in Sports Business Journal, where Massachusetts business attorney Bob Ruxin reasoned that the Expos could increase Fenway’s revenue with twice as many home games being played in the then-“cursed” ballpark. He also argued that ushers, vendors, and other ballpark employees would be employed on a more full-time basis, aiding the region’s economy.
Boston Globe columnist Alex Beam made another push for the Expos to relocate to the Hub, suggesting the Expos take up residence right where the Braves left off, at BU’s Nickerson Field. On a more serious note, he points out the number of French-Canadian tourists in New Hampshire and Maine likely to venture into Boston to take in a game.
The idea went from speculation to reported fact, when the New York Daily News reported that the Red Sox, Expos, and Major League Baseball were actually discussing the possibility of an agreement for both teams to play at Fenway. But as reported by ESPN, all three parties denied any substantial discussion had occurred.
Of course, in the years since, the Sox won four World Series, and the Expos relocated to Washington D.C., where they were renamed the Nationals. Still, it’s fun to consider the “what ifs." Such as...
- Would Pedro Martinez have left the Sox to rejoin his beloved Expos after the 2004 season – walking across the hall from one clubhouse to the next? Would the teams have replicated New York’s “Subway Series” with their own “Duckboat Showdown”?
- How often would Manny Ramirez show up ready to play in an Expos game at Fenway when his Red Sox were on the road? Would Dan Shaughnessy have proved too "harsh" for even the French?
- Most importantly, how many Sox fans would have jumped ship for good when the Boston Expos won the 2019 World Series and Mookie Betts was sent traded away?
It’s fun to think about. But as Expos diehards might tell you: “C’est la vie.”
On the bright side, there is new talk about New England adding a second NHL team.