The 2002 season appears three more times on this countdown, in addition to being at No. 10. It was a year I was able to attend the most games because I was in high school, and not yet working so I had a lot of spare time.
I attended the final game of the Expos season on September 29 which was Vladimir Guerrero‘s final chance to hit his 40th home run and become one of the few players to ever reach that plateau.
Expos manager Frank Robinson had Guerrero bat leadoff in an attempt to get him the most chances to reach the milestone. Guerrero ended up going one for five and falling just shy of the home run he needed.
In the fifth inning, with Jimmy Haynes pitching for the Reds, Guerrero hit a line drive to right-center field. It was off the top of the wall and it was disputed whether it would be a double and a home run. It was eventually decided that it would be a double and the crowd was not happy.
Later in the game, it came down to a final at bat for Guerrero. He was facing off against Joey Hamilton. With two strikes, Guerrero checked his swing and the appeal went to first base umpire Alfonso Marquez and he ruled it strike three to end Guerrero’s bid at the historic mark.
Frank Robinson came out to argue the call and perhaps remind Marquez that when someone goes for history, you might give the benefit of the doubt to the guy trying to make history. Being in the crowd that day was a significant disappointment when the call was made. If Guerrero had simply struck out swinging, it would be different but having it be on a call like that made you feel deflated.
Guerrero’s 2002 season was incredible and perhaps even more incredible is that it was done in the first edition of the annual Last Expos Game in Montreal. The team was expected to be contracted throughout the season, and it was probably the most memorable season for me, which explains it taking up almost half of this countdown.