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Andre Dawson

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Andre Nolan Dawson
(Hawk)

Inducted into Hall of Fame in 2010

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[edit] Biographical Information

Andre Dawson was one of the biggest stars of his era and was the National League's MVP in 1987. Playing 21 seasons in the major leagues, he had 438 home runs, 1,591 RBI, 314 stolen bases, and won eight Gold Gloves.

In 2008, he received 65.9% of the BBWAA vote for the Hall of Fame, with 75% needed to get in. In 2009, he received 67% and in 2010, he received 77,9% and was elected.

[edit] Montreal Years

Andre Dawson was drafted by the Montreal Expos out of Florida A&M University in 1975, and played in 24 major league games in 1976. He had tremendous success during his brief minor league career, hitting .330 and slugging .553 for the Lethbridge Expos in 1975, then batting .357 in 40 games for AA Quebec and .350 in 74 games for AAA Denver in 1976. His stardom rose in 1977 when he became an everyday outfielder for the Expos, and batted .282 with 19 home runs and 21 stolen bases. He formed an excellent young outfield for the Expos alongside RF Ellis Valentine and LF Warren Cromartie from 1977 to 1979. He was awarded the 1977 National League Rookie of the Year Award, narrowly beating out Steve Henderson of the New York Mets.

In 1980, Cromartie moved to first base and was replaced by Ron LeFlore in left, then Tim Raines took over in LF in 1981. Dawson had a blend of power and speed, hitting at least 20 home runs in his seven seasons with the Expos, and stealing at least 20 bases in seven seasons. Dawson, playing primarily center field for the Expos, also became an excellent defensive player, gaining his first of eight Gold Glove awards in 1980. Based on his all-around excellence, Dawson was second in the National League MVP voting in 1981 (the winner was Mike Schmidt) and second again in 1983 (the winner was Dale Murphy).

When Dawson first came to Montreal, there was concern about the strength of his arm, and before the 1977 season the team traded for Sam Mejias, known for his cannon arm, as a potential back-up to Dawson. However, Dawson worked hard on his throwing, and the issue quickly became moot. In 1984, he was moved to right field with Raines sliding over in center for a year, and by then his arm was among the best in the majors. The reason for the shift was the state of Dawson's knees, damaged by the rock-hard turf at Stade Olympique (he had to regularly have his knees drained of fluid in order to be able to play). In right field, he continued to win gold gloves, as his ability to play the tricky corners and his great arm made him a tremendous defensive asset in his first seasons at the position. His defense went downwards as he aged and lost mobility, but he was a genuine defensive wizard at both positions for a number of years. Starting in 1984, when he had a significant down year, Dawson's offensive production fell down a notch. He recovered somewhat in 1985 and 1986, but was no longer the all-around threat at the plate that he had been in his first seasons.

In addition to his contributions on the field, Dawson was a mentor to troubled Expos players during his time in Montreal. He tried vainly to keep 2B Rodney Scott from the temptations of drugs, but was successful in rescuing Raines from a potential downward spiral when he became addicted to cocaine in 1982. In gratitude for the help given, Raines named his second son Andre Darrell Raines. For all his contributions to the team however, Dawson was not well treated by management. When his contract ran out after the 1986 season, he was given an insulting offer to sign again. Dawson wanted to leave Montreal because of his knees, but management played the collusion card, discouraging every other team from making an offer to Dawson, with the aim of giving him no other choice but to come back and sign a below-market contract with the Expos.

[edit] Chicago Years

Andre Dawson played for the Expos until after the 1986 season, when he took a pay cut to sign with the Chicago Cubs. Dawson's knee injuries were aggravated by playing on artificial turf in Montreal, and he hoped playing home games on grass at Wrigley Field would prolong his career. Dawson had campaigned for the Cubs to sign him during the offseason, but general manager Dallas Green resisted, insisting that the Cubs would start Brian Dayett in right field (Dawson had moved from center field to right field in his final three seasons as an Expo, due to the condition of his knees), and that one player could not make a 71-91 team a 91-71 team . When the Cubs opened camp in Mesa, Arizona that spring, Dawson and his agent Dick Moss arrived in an attempt to secure a contract with the Cubs. Dawson and Moss's stunt was derided as a "dog and pony show" by Green, who still wouldn't make an offer to Dawson. Two weeks into spring training, Dawson turned the tables on Green and the Cubs, presenting Green with a blank contract. Green filled in the contract with insultingly low figures: a $500,000 base salary with $250,000 in incentives if Dawson made the All-Star team, started the All-Star Game, and won the 1987 National League MVP award.

He did all three, with a monster 1987 season that included a NL-leading 49 home runs and the MVP Award as the Cubs' starting right fielder.[1] It was his only MVP Award, after having twice been runner-up with Montreal. Still, Dawson wasn't able to turn around the Cubs' fortunes: after contending for the first half of the season, and even being in first place in early May, they finished 76-85 and last in the National League East.

Dawson played five more seasons with the Cubs as one of the franchise's most popular players. His worst individual season came in 1989, when the Cubs won the National League East title. Dawson slumped during the National League Championship Series, hitting .105 as the San Francisco Giants beat the Cubs 4 games to 1.

His .507 career slugging percentage with the Cubs is 4th highest in team history.

[edit] Boston and Florida Years

Dawson also played for the Boston Red Sox, and the Florida Marlins before retiring.

[edit] Career accomplishments

Dawson ended his career with 2,774 hits, 438 home runs, 314 Stolen Bases, and 1,591 RBI. He is (as of July 2007) 29th on the all-time Home Run list, and 28th on the all-time RBI list. Only he, Willie Mays and Barry Bonds have hit 400 HR and stolen 300 bases in major league histor. Only six are in the (300-300 club): Bonds, Mays, Bobby Bonds, Reggie Sanders and Steve Finley.

Dawson in 2011.

Dawson was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers Association of America on January 6, 2010, obtaining 77.9% of the vote. He was the sole player elected by the BBWAA that year. There was a question whether he would be depicted on his plaque wearing an Expos or a Cubs uniform; on January 26, the Hall of Fame announced he would be inducted as an Expo, joining his long-time teammate Gary Carter as the only two Hall of Fame members to be depicted in Montreal's colors. He used the occasion of his acceptance speech at the induction ceremony on July 25, 2010 to push for the election of two former teammates, Tim Raines and Lee Smith.

While an Expo, Andre Dawson hit two home runs in one inning in Wrigley Field on September 24, 1985. When he hit the second one - his third of the game -, the scoreboard operators in center field were so flustered that they initially put the Expos new score in upside down.

He was beaned in the face by Eric Show in Wrigley Field in 1987. Dawson and 6 other Cubs were ejected in that game. He got over 20 stitches in his face.

He was a member of the both the 1981 NL East Champion Montreal Expos and the 1989 NL East Champion Chicago Cubs. Both teams failed to reach the World Series, however, and in both cases, Dawson slumped badly during the League Championship Series. In particular, he came up to bat in the 1st inning of the deciding Game 5 of the 1981 NLCS with nobody out and runners on first and third against a struggling Fernando Valenzuela of the Dodgers. With a chance to blow the game wide open, he instead hit into a double play, and Montreal eventually lost the game, 2-1, on Rick Monday's fateful 9th inning home run.

When Dawson retired, he held the record for the most career games (2,627) by a player who never played in a World Series. He is now in second place, behind Rafael Palmeiro (2,831), who played opposite him in the Cubs outfield in 1987 and 1988.

His main non-baseball hobby is deep sea fishing. He worked for a time in the front office of the Florida Marlins. Dawson's uncle, Theodore Taylor, was a 3B/OF in the Pittsburgh Pirates chain, 1967-1969.

[edit] Notes

  1. Note that Bill James considers Dawson's best years to be from 1979-1983, with his higher Chicago numbers being due to Wrigley Field's advantageous environment for hitters (James 2001).

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • 1977 NL Rookie of the Year Award
  • 1977 Topps All-Star Rookie Team
  • 8-time NL All-Star (1981-1983 & 1987-1991)
  • 1987 NL MVP
  • 8-time NL Gold Glove Winner (1980-1985, 1987 & 1988)
  • 4-time NL Silver Slugger Award Winner (1980, 1981, 1983 & 1987)
  • NL Hits Leader (1983)
  • NL Home Runs Leader (1987)
  • NL RBI Leader (1987)
  • 2-time NL Total Bases Leader (1983 & 1987)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 13 (1978, 1979, 1981-1983 & 1985-1992)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 3 (1983, 1987 & 1991)
  • 40-Home Run Seasons: 1 (1987)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 4 (1983, 1987, 1990 & 1991)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 2 (1982 & 1983)
  • Baseball Hall of Fame: Class of 2010


NL MVP
1986 1987 1988
Mike Schmidt Andre Dawson Kirk Gibson
NL Rookie of the Year
1976 1977 1978
Butch Metzger & Pat Zachry Andre Dawson Bob Horner

[edit] Further Reading

  • Andre Dawson (as told to George Vass): "The Game I'll Never Forget", Baseball Digest, January 1987, pp. 35-37. [1]
  • Danny Gallagher: "Dawson second best Expo ever", in Remembering the Montreal Expos, Scoop Press, Toronto, ON, 2005, pp. 109-113.
  • Rick Sorci: "Baseball Profile: Outfielder Andre Dawson", Baseball Digest, September 1991, p. 49. [2]

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