MONTREAL — Bob Bailey, an original Montreal Expo who got the team's first base hit in 1969, has died. He was 75.
The Baseball Hall of Fame and the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association were among the people and organizations to tweet messages of condolences for "Beetle" Bailey, who died Tuesday in Las Vegas, where he lived.
Bailey, a power hitting third baseman, played 951 games over seven seasons for Montreal. In his peak years, he had 28 home runs and 84 runs-batted-in in 1970 and 26 homers and 86 RBIs in 1973.
In the expansion Expos' first game on April 8, 1969 in New York, Bailey got the team's first hit off Tom Seaver in the first inning. His double that brought home Gary Sutherland and Mack Jones marked the Expos' first RBIs. Bailey went 2-for-4 as the Expos won 11-10.
"At the start, he was a little disappointed to be in Montreal, but he found a manager, Gene Mauch, who preferred veterans over rookies so it was a good place for him," said long-time Expos broadcaster Jacques Doucet. "He was a charming guy who loved to talk baseball.
"On the plane or the bus, if you sat next to Bailey, he always had a good story to tell."
Bailey was a star high school player in southern California in 1961 when he signed as a free agent "bonus baby" with the Pittsburgh Pirates for US$175,000, a whopping sum at the time.
He began his major league career the next season with Pittsburgh. After a disappointing start to his career, he was traded the Los Angeles Dodgers, who sold his contract to Montreal in 1968.
His 17-year major league career also took him to Cincinnati, where he won a World Series in 1976, and the Boston Red Sox. Bailey batted .257 with 189 home runs and 773 RBIs in 1,931 games played.