Vidro returning to Montreal for a good cause

Vidro turned in fine career as Expos’ second baseman

By Danny Gallagher
Canadian Baseball Network

Looking back on Jose Vidro’s career, you stop and take stock of what he did in 2000. It was unreal what he fashioned that season.

“That was my best year,’’ Vidro was saying the other day. “I had 51 doubles, I played 153 games and had over 650 plate appearances.’’

Of course, the switch-hitter also started talking about what else he did. He hit .330 with 101 runs, 200 hits, 24 homers and 97 RBIs, by far the best season by an Expos’ second baseman in franchise history. He was also pretty slick with the glove, committing only 10 errors.

That season was especially gratifying after the Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, native received a phone call from his agent about a strange off-season move made by the Expos, not by general manager Jim Beattie, but by the majority owner himself. It was a move intended to put heat on Vidro, coming off a 1999 season when he hit .304 with 12 homers and 59 RBIs.

“Jeffrey Loria signed free agent Mickey Morandini to come to spring training that year,’’ a slighted Vidro recalled. “Felipe Alou called me into his office at spring training to talk about it. “They had told me that I might have to go and play some other position. I told Felipe that he’s not going to play over me. ‘’

Vidro was right. An awkward situation was avoided when the good-field, no-power Morandini, 32, was released before the end of spring. He ended up playing that season for both the Toronto Blue Jays and the Philadelphia Phillies. Vidro, 22, went on to record a season of all seasons.

Vidro also had a stellar season in 2002 when he hit .315 with 19 homers, 96 RBIs, 190 hits and 103 runs in 681 plate appearances, which surpassed the 663 he had in 2000.

Vidro would play a total of eight seasons in Montreal and then two more with the Nationals when the organization was shifted to Washington. He finished his career by playing two seasons with the Seattle Mariners. 

There was only one word to explain his shortened career: injuries. At the relatively young age of 33, Vidro played his last game Aug. 4, 2008. The turf at Olympic Stadium in Montreal did damage to his body, like it did to his close friend Vladimir Guerrero, plus Hall of Famer Andre Dawson and many other Expos’ heroes.

“Some days, my legs felt like balloons,’’ Vidro said. “The turf took a toll on my body. It was hard on my legs.  I had back pains and my knees hurt.  I told my wife that if I continued to play that I’d need a walking stick. It was getting harder to go back and play.’’

Vidro spends most of his time in his native Puerto Rico with his family and is paying particular attention to his son Jose Jr., 19, who has some potential.

For his time in Montreal, Jose the second baseman is very grateful. He will be back in the city to give back some of his time April 3 for Expos Fest along with Ellis Valentine, Steve Rogers, Marquis Grissom, Andres Galarraga and his cherished buddy Guerrero.  

“Montreal is an unbelievable city,’’ Vidro said. “I loved living there. My family loved it.’’

Vidro agreed to help event coordinator Perry Giannias, who has organized a day-long fund-raiser at Place Centre Ville to make people aware of Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma in honour of family relative Catherine Demes, who died of the disease at a young age.

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Danny Gallagher

Danny was born in Ted Lindsay's hometown of Renfrew, Ont. but his roots are in nearby Douglas. He played 27 consecutive seasons of top-level amateur baseball in the senior ranks in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Quebec and thrived on organizing events himself, the major one being the highly successful 1983 Canadian senior men's tournament in Sudbury. He began covering the Montreal Expos in 1988 when he joined the Montreal Daily News. Later, he was the Expos beat writer for the Ottawa Sun and Associated Press. He has written four baseball books, including Remembering the Montreal Expos, which he co-authored with Bill Young of Hudson, Que. Gallagher and Young are currently working on a book about the ill-fated 1994 Expos squad. Gallagher can be reached here: dannogallagher@rogers.com