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Andre Dawson

Andre Dawson

Position(s):
CF, LF, OF, RF, DH
Nicknames:
The Hawk
Born:
July 10, 1954
Bats:
Right
Throws:
Right
Height:
6' 3"
Weight:
180 lbs
Major League Debut:
9-11-1976 with MON
Allstar Selections:
1977 ROOK, 1980 GG, 1980 SS, 1981 GG, 1981 SS, 1982 GG, 1983 GG, 1983 SS, 1984 GG, 1985 GG, 1987 GG, 1987 MVP, 1987 SS, 1988 GG, 1994 HA
Hall of Fame:
2010

 

After a decade of stardom with Montreal, Dawson reached new heights with the Cubs. A free-swinging righthanded batter susceptible to being hit by pitches (he led or tied for the league lead four times) Dawson was a complete player with the Expos, outstanding at bat, in the field, and on the bases. On September 24, 1985, he became the second player in major league history to hit two home runs in an inning twice in a career (having previously done it on July 30, 1978). Still, he was largely overshadowed in Montreal by the popular Gary Carter and as a power-hitting NL outfielder by Dale Murphy, who got to play half his games in homer-friendly Fulton County Stadium.

Dawson led NL outfielders in chances three straight seasons (1981-83), but the artificial surface at Olympic Stadium took its toll on his knees. By 1986 he was determined to play on grass. He foiled the collusion of the owners to check the free agent market by signing a blank contract with the Cubs, which they filled in with a salary far below market value ($500,000). Rejuvenated by natural grass and day baseball, and helped statistically by the move to the league's best offensive park after ten years in one of its worst, he turned in an MVP season in 1987, leading the NL with 49 homers and 137 RBI. He was the first player on a last-place team ever to win the MVP. And he recovered on the salary as well when the Players Association won a significant judgment against the owners for the collusion.

Though he never approached his 1987 numbers again, Dawson remained a feared hitter even at the end of his Cub tenure in 1992. On May 22, 1990, he set a major league record for intentional walks received in one game when he got five in a 16-inning contest. Dawson tied for the NL league in intentional walks that year with 21 -- half his walk total for the year. His lifetime on-base percentage was only .323.

At the end of the 1990 season he stole his 300th base, making him a member of the exclusive 300/300 club. The Red Sox signed him as a free agent for the 1993 season, using him mostly as a DH for two years. But first his power and then his average declined, and the Miami-born Florida A&M graduate returned to the NL when the Marlins signed him as a free agent he was retained by the Marlins for one last season due to his popularity and leadership. Announcing his retirement in advance, he had a farewell tour of the league in 1996. At the close of his career he ranked 22nd all-time in homers and 23rd in RBI.

Accomplishments

Dawson finished his career with 2,774 hits, 438 home runs, 314 stolen bases, and 1,591 RBI. He is one of only six players in major league history to record over 300 home runs and 300 stolen bases in his career (300-300 club); the other players to accomplish this are Barry Bonds, Willie Mays, Bobby Bonds, Reggie Sanders and Steve Finley. Dawson is also one of only three members of the 400 HR-300 SB club, along with Barry Bonds and Willie Mays.

In 1997, Dawson's #10 was retired by the Montreal Expos in his honor (the number had been previously retired for Rusty Staub). After the franchise moved to Washington, the Montreal Canadiens raised a banner in the Bell Centre to commemorate all of the retired Expos numbers, including Dawson's. In 2010 the Washington Nationals placed Dawson in its "Ring of Honor" at Nationals Park.

Hall of Fame

Dawson was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010, his ninth year of eligibility, rising from an initial vote total of 45.3% in 2002 to 77.9% in 2010. Dawson's Hall of Fame plaque depicts him with a Montreal Expos cap.

The major impediments to Dawson's election to the Hall of Fame had been his ordinary career .323 on base percentage, his statistics being diminished in stature by sluggers who played after him in the steroid era, and never playing in a World Series. Cubs teammate Ryne Sandberg campaigned for Dawson's induction during his speech at his own Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 2005: "No player in baseball history worked harder, suffered more or did it better than Andre Dawson. He's the best I've ever seen. I watched him win an MVP for a last-place team in 1987 [with the Cubs], and it was the most unbelievable thing I've ever seen in baseball. He did it the right way, the natural way, and he did it in the field and on the bases and in every way, and I hope he will stand up here someday."

Nickname

Andre Dawson's nickname, "The Hawk", was given to him by an uncle at a very early age. Andre used to work out with a men's team that would hit him ground balls at practice. Andre's uncle told him that most kids his age would shy away from the ball, but Andre attacked the ball like a hawk. The name stuck

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Tagged:
2010 Hall of Fame, Andre Dawson, Baseball History, Gold Glove, Rookie of the Year Award, Silver Slugger Award

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