Loria, a New York art dealer and Yankees season-ticket holder whose father once faced Lou Gehrig in a high-school game, was outbid for the Baltimore Orioles by Peter Angelos in 1993 but spent $75 million for a controlling interest in the cash-strapped Montreal Expos in 1999. Although he allowed the club's purse-strings to open slightly in order to sign free-agent reliever Graeme Lloyd and trade for starter Hideki Irabu, the decisions were not wise ones and the Expos continued to struggle.
Cynics suggested that Loria had no intention of keeping the Expos in Montreal; speculation that was fueled in June 2000 by his tactless response to an Air Canada flight attendant who asked him to turn off his cellphone before takeoff. "No wonder everybody wants to leave Canada," Loria grumbled.
Loria made waves on the field, as well. He invited Maury Wills and Jeff Torborg to spring training as instructors in 2000 without consulting manager Felipe Alou, and a year later he hired Torborg to replace the popular skipper.
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FROM THE BASEBALL CHRONOLOGY
»May 30, 2001: The Expos fire manager Felipe Alou, their skipper since May 1992. Owner Jeffrey Loria says the team has been underperforming and needs a change. The new manager is his long-time friend Jeff Torborg, who is also an old friend of Alou's. The 66-year-old Alou, with the Expos organization for 27 years, turned down the job of managing the Dodgers after the 1997 season to stay in Montreal. A year later he called that a big mistake.
»December 6, 2001: Major league baseball reportedly gives John Henry permission to sell the Florida Marlins to Montreal Expos owner, Jeffrey Loria. The Expos are expected to be either contracted or taken over by Major League Baseball, which would buy the team from Loria in case contraction is aborted, leaving him an opportunity to own the Marlins.
»February 11, 2002: Major league baseball owners approve the sales of the Florida Marlins and Montreal Expos. Florida owner John Henry is selling the Marlins to Jeffrey Loria for $158.5 million, while Loria is selling the Expos to Baseball Expos LP, a limited partnership owned by the other 29 teams, for $120 million. The sales won't officially close until later this week.