Sports Logo Case Study #1—Montréal Expos — 35 Comments

    • The Kid…the first Expo cap on a Hall of Fame plaque in Cooperstown, now a street in Montréal has been named for him.

    • Great to read these comments on the logo. My dad Gerald N Reilly was the lead designer in the 60’s when this was created. Can’t wait to show him in May 2015 this site. Back then it really was Mad Men at the ad agency. He’s 86 now and the most media he will tolerate is the print edition of The Globe and Mail newspaper.

      • That’s fantastic-any additional info or insight into the birth of this iconic logo would be welcome and appreciated. He and his team really created a beloved identity.

      • K Reilly, I too would be interested to know more. I’m gathering information for a work of fiction set around baseball, and if you could give me a bit of background about the creation of the Expos identity, I would be very pleased since I can’t seem to find anything. Thank you.

        • The creation and launches of sports identities in this era were, for the most part, not well documented. Little publicity, usually handled by ad agencies that have by now merged multiple times, changed hands, and/or folded. I too would welcome any additional info.

        • Richard-What a treat to get a comment from you. Your Blue Jays’ identity is a masterpiece, seriously. Contemporary for its time, but timelessly classic, highly proprietary, and perfect in every way. Would love to continue the conversation (
          Thanks so much, Todd

  1. I’m also very fond of the Expos’ second set of uniforms. Although they implemented the trends of the time (‘racing stipes,’ stylized number font, light blue roadies), I loved that they kept the traditional button-up jerseys and belted pants. When I was a kid, something was really appealing about the Expos’ unifomrs, not sure if it was the colors, the bold trim, how the caps complemented the jersey/pants…

    Funny that the 1984 USA Olympic baseball team’s uniforms practically copied those worn by a French Canadian team!

    • Ross-I agree, a new generation of jerseys for a new decade—first worn in 1980. A nice update. And a trend-setter in the racing stripes department with the Mets, Indians, Astros, Mariners, and others following suit in the years to come. Do your 1971 Dodgers road jerseys count there?

      I remember being kind of surprised and disappointed with the switch to red numbers and red road “expos.” Red against powder blue struck me as a bad design call, even then.

      Those 1984 USA jerseys always struck me as weird, a read hodgepodge of styles with the Expos’ numbers seeming especially mismatched.

      • No one remembers the 1971 road uniforms! Probably because the Dodgers were horrible and that was a very forgettable era between the great teams of the 60s and 70s. I actually liked them, I thought they were a better road uniform than the essentially gray version of the homes (no piping or outlining) they wore on the road until 1977.

        Back to the Expos… the red on light blue lettering did look odd. It looked a little better when they added the royal outline a few years later, but still a curious decision.

        Was personally a bit sad when Montreal went to the more conventional baseball look (road grays, pinstripe homes, solid caps). I appreciate the traditional uniforms of the Dodgers, Yankees, Tigers, etc, but I also have an appreciation for the eccentric ones like the old Astros, Pirates, White Sox and all-red Indians. Maybe it’s because I grew up watching baseball in the 80s, but I really feel baseball uniforms are a little boring now. Too much navy and a lot of the same old trim patterns.

        • The uniforms of the 70s represented a perfect reflection of a society and a nation in flux, an explosion of color and polyester that broke away from the previous generation in a big way. There was a wonderfully spontaneous naiveté involved with these identities that inspired me to do what I do today, and it sounds like the same can be said for you, Ross.

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  3. I was told as a youth that the Expos logo had a few meanings all going on at the same time
    1. a big stylized M for Montreal
    2. a small e for Expos
    3. as an acronym for the saying “Everyone Loves Baseball”. The red e is for everyone, the white l for loves and the blue b for baseball.
    Given that this was the first “international” baseball team now playing in the major leagues, the idea of “everyone” (as in globally) makes perfect sense and of course the saying perfectly sums up this new feel-good moment of baseball expansion – everyone loves baseball. A very ’60s/summer-of-love-kind-of-thing to opine, no? I miss Les Expos! Go ‘Spos Go!

    • That’s a new theory to add to the list-I like it! I was at the Expos’ final ever game, 2004 at Shea Stadium. Very sad to see them go away, a unique franchise with a unique look that brings back warm memories whether you were a fan of the team or not.

      • I always loved when the Jarry Park announcer would put a nice pause in the name of the Expos catcher – “now batting John Bocc (pause) abella!”

  4. I was never a fan of the racing stripes, and kind of liked the clean look of the original Expos uniforms. However, I especially disliked the switch to red letters and numerals on the road jerseys. The blue numbers with white outline worked best on the powder blues. But I always liked that original number font. I think the Kansas Jayhawks basketball team used it for a time as well.

  5. I am not and never was a Montreal/Washington baseball fan, but as an artist picked up my cap when visiting the stadium in Montreal because I liked the design, Now, what I like to tell people who comment on the cap, is that when you turn “M” upside down, you have a “W”. Ironic…maybe?

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  7. Well, I’ll be damned. As a kid, I thought their logo read “Jb”, and I just assumed it was French for something I’d never understand. Now that I know it’s there, I can see the letter “M” in that sucker, but I had to look long and hard to see it. I suppose they’ll always be the “Jb Expos” to me.

    • Same here.. all my life I’ve referred to them as JB Expos… and I’ve looked at many sites regarding this and you are the only one besides me that thought the same about this logo.. hhhhhmmmm¿?

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  9. Great article. Love the Expos and of course their iconic logo. Wear an Expos cap in Los Angeles and get a lot of positive comments on it. Hoping they bring the Expos back to Montreal at some level and that my memories of seeing the team as a kid can begin a new chapter. Remember their first season in 1969! There was always a relationship of sorts between the Dodgers and Expos in early years and recall Maury Wills and Rusty Staub being traded to Montreal. Loved seeing the Expos at Dodger stadium and had a pennant flag from 1970. Love how the logo has been “rediscovered” by younger generation and hip hop scene.

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  12. The logo is composed of three letters; a “e”, a “j”, and a”b”. The initials were molded into a multi-color “M” but were a tribute of owner Charles Bronfman to his daughter Ellen Jane Bronfman.

  13. Ever since I was a kid in the 70’s, I’ve wondered what ELB stood for. I NEVER EVER saw an “M” there. Still don’t. A clearly defined M just isn’t there for me. I always assumed it was for Eastern League Baseball, being in the National League, East…

  14. I loved the logo as an 11 year old and always thought it meant expos de Montreal baseball. I would practice drawing it making it on Tees with with whatever those fabric pens were. I have a real team hat 70s or 80s with Bill “the Spaceman” Lee’s autograph on it. Congratulations to your Dad k Reilly. One of the best sports logos ever. Distinct. The non-capitalization is Francophone. Most people don’t have much of an idea what it means. The Op-Art aspect of it. The M. Forward energy, leaning right or up.

  15. Can’t believe this…I googled this site up out of pure curiosity and intrigue as a 48 year old that was into baseball since I was a kid I just never understood the meaning of the Expos emblem…frankly I NEVER saw the “M”, never did…I just saw elb …you hardly can see the white first stick of the M on a white backdrop and without any space between the two sticks even less likely to make it out. J’m’excuse but it is also quite sad that it took the organization 2 decades to disclose an explanation. That said, they never even attempted to revitalize or renew the dream with an updated emblem design.

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