It’s been 9 years, but former Cub great, Andre Dawson, has finally made it into the Baseball Hall of Fame. I am very happy about the news. Last year, I posted about my disappointment that he didn’t make it.
Dawson’s numbers were not staggering, especially when compared to the juiced ball era that we are coming out of. His lack of any dominating category explains why he wasn’t a first year Hall of Fame player. He got in by how he played.
Dawson began his career in Montreal with the Expos, now the Washington Nationals. Early in his career, Dawson was known for his speed and great hitting. He and Tim Raines were a lethal pair. Unfortunately, the artificial turf in Olympic Statium destroyed his knees, and he was unable to run like he did in his early years. Throughout the rest of his career, his knees bothered him. Dawson’s problems with his knees started from high school football. He added power to his skill set to offset his lack of speed.
After playing on the turf for 11 years in Montreal, he had to move. Montreal was not going to resign him as they were afraid of the condition of his knees. Most teams were unsure of his knees and were hesitant to sign him. Dawson also knew he had to get back onto playing on the grass. He talked with the Cubs to ask if they would sign him, and they did. He just wanted to play, and he told the Cubs he would play for what ever they wanted to pay him. He got paid $500,000 that year, compared to $1.2 M the previous year. That season (1987), he then went on to turn in his MVP season for a Cub team that went on to be last place in their division that year. That year he led the league in Total Bases (353), HR’s (49) and RBI’s (137). MVP’s typically get picked from winning teams, but Dawson played so well, he was able to secure the honor despite his team’s lack of success.
I can remember watching him play on WGN as a kid. He was a great player, a steady clean up hitter. He struck out a lot, but could hit. My favorite thing about Dawson was watching his fielding. He played right field in Wrigley. The winds in Wrigley make it one of the toughest right fields to play. I remember watching him throw runners out with is powerful arm. My favorite was when he would charge a hard hit single and throw out the runner at first because the runner wasn’t hustling. The Wrigley faithful respected him. The bleacher bums in right would bow down as he would take his position.
Dawson’s teammates spoke highly of him. Although his knees hurt constantly and limited his potential, he didn’t complain and he didn’t let his knees stop him from giving 100%.
His career numbers:
Batting Average: .279