Andre Dawson Essentials
Primary Positions: Outfield
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Height: 6′-3″ Weight: 180
Born: July 10, 1954 in Miami, FL USA
Died: Still Alive
Debut: September 11, 1976 vs PITi 2 AB, 0 H, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB
Last Game: September 29, 1996 vs. HOU 1 AB, 0 H, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB
Hall of Fame: Inducted as a Player in 2010 by BBWAA on 420/539 ballots
Full Name: Andre Nolan Dawson
Drafted: Montreal Expos in the 11th round of the 1975 MLB June Amateur Draft from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (Tallahassee, FL)
High School: Southwest Miami HS (Miami, FL)
College: Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (Tallahassee, FL)
Nicknames: The Hawk
The 1987 National League Most Valuable Player, stoic Andre Dawson clubbed 49 homers and drove in 137 runs for the last-place Chicago Cubs, becoming the first player on a cellar-dweller to earn the award. He hit 174 homers in a Cubs’ uniform, but that was just the second act in his fine career. Earlier, “The Hawk” starred as a five-tool center fielder for the Expos, hitting 225 homers and stealing 253 bases for Montreal in ten full seasons. With Ellis Valentine and Warren Cromartie, and later Tim Raines, he formed one of the most talented outfields of the era. He finished his career with two seasons for his hometown Florida Marlins. In 2010 he was elected into Baseball’s Hall of Fame
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.
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.
Though Dawson was a more well-rounded player from 1979-1983, he was a monster in ’87. I can’t agree with his selection as Most Valuable Player, but he had a fabulous season for a very mediocre team. — Dan Holmes Several sources claim Dawson signed a blank major league contract with the Chicago Cubs in 1987. This is not completely true. Dawson was one of several free agents that off-season who did not receive any offers from teams. Lance Parrish, Tim Raines, Bob Boone, Bob Horner and Rich Gedman were a few of the others. These free agents were later awarded compensation because it was found owners’ had agreed to ignore high-price free agents in an effort to drive down the price of players. Dawson eventually signed with the Cubs, his first choice because he had always had success at Wrigley Field. In his years with Montreal he had hit .346 (122-for-353) with 16 homers and a .598 slugging percentage in Wrigley. Dawson originally told the Cubs he would sign a blank contract and allow the team to fill in any salary they saw fit, just so he could get to play 81 games in Chicago. The Cubs refused and settled on a $650,000 contract – still far less than Dawson would have commanded in a “collusion-free” fair market. After his MVP campaign in 1987, the Cubs tore up the contract and re-signed him for $1.8 million./
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.”
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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