COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — It would have been much better for Bud Selig if he hadn’t been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on the same day as former Expo Tim Raines.
Selig, who was MLB commissioner for the demise and eventual death of the Expos, was greeted by more boos than cheers when he was introduced — most of the boos coming from the four busloads of ExposNation fans who made the trip from Montreal.
When Selig started his speech, Montreal fans tried to drown him out with chants of “Let’s go Expos!” while one shouted “go back to Milwaukee.” A group of about 10 fans wearing Expos jerseys turned their backs to the stage for the duration of Selig’s speech, which lasted almost 19 minutes.
At one point in his speech, Selig said the 1994 strike — which came when the Expos had the best record in the majors — was “the most painful experience of my life.”
That brought more boos and chants of “Let’s go Expos!”
Selig was also celebrating his 83rd birthday Sunday.
Batting fifth: Selig was the third of the five new Hall of Famers to speak, following former Atlanta Braves general manager John Schuerholz and former Houston Astros star Jeff Bagwell.
Former Texas Rangers catcher Iván “Pudge” Rodríguez spoke after Selig, followed by Raines.
“I’m surely not used to batting fifth,” Raines said during his speech. “Although I feel like I had the power and speed to do it.”
Raines’s speech was the longest of the day, lasting 33 minutes and 26 seconds.
French lessons failed: Raines tried to say a few words in French, but it didn’t go well.
“First, I want to apologize to the French-Canadians,” he said. “I’ve been trying for over 25 years to speak your language … I still haven’t got there yet.”
Then he said: “Bonjour, monsieur et … I screwed that up again! We worked on that all night. Dang!”
Expos connections: Bagwell made a point of thanking two former Expos who became his teammates with the Astros: Casey Candaele and Moises Alou.
Bagwell talked about how Candaele helped him learn to be a major-leaguer as a rookie in 1991 and spoke about his close friendship with Alou, who played three seasons in Houston starting in 1998. Alou and his wife are godparents to two of Bagwell’s children.
“I love you so much, even though you’re waving an Expos cap,” Bagwell said to Alou.
Hall of Famers everywhere: There were 50 players already in the Hall of Fame in attendance and they were all introduced at the start of the induction ceremony, including Andre Dawson — one of three players to enter the Hall wearing an Expos cap along with Gary Carter and Raines.
The biggest applause was for 71-year-old Rod Carew, who underwent successful heart and kidney transplants in December. Carew’s new organs came from former NFL player Konrad Reuland, who died at age 29 from a brain aneurysm.
New kids in the Hall: The five new plaques have already been hung in the Hall of Fame.
Here’s what it says on Raines’s plaque: “A switch-hitting leadoff man whose speed, extra-base power and plate discipline were the perfect table-setting tools to fuel the 1980s Expos. Burst onto the scene in 1981, the start of a dominant 10-year stretch with more hits, runs scored, and times reaching base than any other National Leaguer. The only player with six straight years of 70 or more steals, led the N.L. four times. Totaled 808 stolen bases with a remarkable success rate of 84.7 per cent. An all-star outfielder in each of his first seven full seasons. Won the 1986 N.L. batting title. Earned two World Series rings with the Yankees.”
No O Canada? With so many Montreal fans in attendance and Raines entering the Hall with an Expos cap, it would have been nice if someone had sung O Canada before the induction ceremonies.
It also would have been nice if someone had sung the Puerto Rican national anthem, since that’s where Rodriguez is from. Rodriguez made his speech half in English and half in Spanish, much to the delight of the many fans waving Puerto Rican flags.
The Star Spangled Banner was the only anthem sung.