Leaving Expos pays in many ways for Alou He finds millions, Series in Fla., but misses dad, too

October 20, 1997|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

MIAMI -- Florida Marlins outfielder Moises Alou is intimately acquainted with the economic chasm between baseball's big-revenue clubs and small-market gulags. He was very much at home in Montreal until the financial realities of baseball in the 1990s compelled him to seek a better opportunity elsewhere.

This is not an unusual story. Players uproot each winter in search of greener passbooks. But Alou had to leave the team managed by his father to become a free agent last winter. He had to cross a bloodline to get to the World Series.

"I had no choice," Alou said. "Montreal never offered me a contract when I became a free agent. It wasn't that hard TC because I was prepared for it. I knew that moment was coming. The world knew it was coming. Because that's Montreal politics."

The Expos have been supplying talent to baseball's more financially fortunate clubs for years now. The Montreal minor-league system is the envy of baseball, so rich that the club might have reached the World Series almost exclusively on home-grown talent in 1994, if the baseball strike had not brought the season to a premature end.

"I still feel that we had a very good chance of going to the World Series in '94," Alou said. "We had the best record in baseball. It wasn't guaranteed that we were going to go to the World Series, but I really felt and the rest of my ex-teammates felt that we were going to make it there. Unfortunately the strike came and things didn't work out for us, but I'm very glad to have another chance here in Miami."

Alou finally is getting his postseason shot this year, and he made the most of it on Saturday night at Pro Player Stadium when he lined a three-run home run off the left-field foul pole that turned out to be the difference in the Marlins' first-ever World Series victory.

He came into the game with just one hit in 12 career at-bats against Cleveland Indians pitcher Orel Hershiser, but combined with catcher Charles Johnson for the first set of back-to-back homers in the Fall Classic since Dwight Evans and Rich Gedman hit consecutive homers for the Boston Red Sox in 1986.

"It felt pretty good," said Alou, who added two doubles last night and was just a few feet short of another three-run home run in the first inning. "It's my first World Series and to do something like that against a great pitcher like Orel I know I never hit a home run off him before."

Expos manager Felipe Alou never hit a World Series home run during his distinguished playing career. Neither did either of Moises' uncles, Jesus or Matty, who also had long major-league careers and appeared in the Series. Moises struck a blow for the next generation, and hopes that his father got the chance to see his big moment.

"My father left yesterday for the Dominican Republic," he said Saturday, "so he probably watched the game there if the power didn't go off. I'm sure he's very happy to see me here. I remembered when we clinched in Montreal that the next day, there was a very nice article about him saying he wanted to see me in the World Series. And here I am. I'm proud I performed good, because I think he's very proud of me."

Alou left the Expos to sign a five-year, $25 million contract during the Marlins' off-season spending spree. He was not the most sought-after outfielder in last year's free-agent market, but he commanded much more than the thrifty Expos' organization had to offer.

If the Marlins had not stepped up, he might have turned up in the other dugout for this World Series. The Cleveland Indians also had him on their shopping list last winter, but the bidding reached a point where general manager John Hart could not justify serious interest.

"We had a conversation with his agent," Hart said. "At the time, we felt the dollars got beyond where we wanted to go. We had him on our list, but we saw where the dollars were going and said no."

The Indians may live to regret that decision, but Alou said he has never second-guessed the choice he made.

"I'm really happy here," he said. "I made the right choice to come here. And like I said before, like I say all the time, I came here to be on a winning team, and everything is turning out the way I expected."

Pub Date: 10/20/97

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