MLB history: 50 years ago, two new teams were formed

NEW YORK - CIRCA 1969: Coco Laboy #39 of the Montreal Expos dives but is unable to make the catch of the ball against the New York Mets during a Major League Baseball game circa 1969 at Shea Stadium in the Queens borough of New York City. Laboy played for the Expos from 1969-73. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - CIRCA 1969: Coco Laboy #39 of the Montreal Expos dives but is unable to make the catch of the ball against the New York Mets during a Major League Baseball game circa 1969 at Shea Stadium in the Queens borough of New York City. Laboy played for the Expos from 1969-73. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /
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On this day in MLB history, the San Diego Padres and Montreal Expos came into being through an expansion draft

The expansion that happened in baseball in 1969 gave the league four new teams. On this day in MLB history, the San Diego Padres and Montreal Expos got their start through an expansion draft.

October 14th, 1968, the National League entrants that would begin play in 1969 made their first entrants into the MLB history books by selecting the first members of their organizations. The Padres focused on long-term fits that could grow with the organization while the Expos searched for big names that could make an impact immediately or bring them value in trade right away.

The San Diego Padres selected first, picking Ollie Brown from the San Francisco Giants. He would be a regular for the Padres the first three seasons of their existence until the Padres traded him away in 1972. Interesting, he finished that season with one of the American League teams that entered the league in 1969, the Milwaukee Brewers (descending from the Seattle Pilots). Brown hit .272/.327/.413 over 458 games with the Padres, hitting 52 home runs and stealing 18 bases.

Montreal’s first pick was outfielder Manny Mota from the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Expos would trade Mota along with Maury Wills in June of 1969 to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Ron Fairly and Paul Popovich. Mota just played 31 games with the Expos, hitting .315/.358/.348.

The Padres did end up selecting their first star in the expansion draft, picking Nate Colbert from Houston. Primarily a first baseman with the Padres, Colbert would go on to make three All-Star teams as a Padre. He was traded to Detroit after the 1974 season after accumulating a .253/.331/.469 line over 6 seasons with the Padres, banging out 163 home runs, with his best season being 1972, when he hit .250/.333/.508 with 38 home runs and 111 RBI.

Other notable names from the 1968 National League expansion draft includes Cito Gaston, Donn Clendenon, and Mudcat Grant. While he was never an Expo on the field, the team began an affair with the Alou family by selecting Jesus Alou, and after his playing career was over, Alou would become a scout for the Expos into the early 1990s, signing many players that became vital pieces to the team’s famed 1994 run before the strike ended the season.

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While some days in MLB history have a big game or a famous birthday of a player, today we celebrate a 50th birthday of two organizations in the game!