Last week, we offered a free post anyone who could grab a Bruce Weber Bobblehead from a Schaumberg Flyers promotion. The blessed soul that is Jeff Kline, from a "hellhole of suburban vacuousness only seven miles away from Alexian Field," came through for us. So here's his free post, which has a noble goal: To get Andre Dawson into the Hall of Fame. And thanks, Jeff: Our dad is gonna LOVE the Weber bobblehead.
Two weeks ago Bruce Sutter was elected into the Hall of Fame, and deservedly so. Sutter was among a wave of pitchers that have completely altered the face of baseball and have turned the closer into an indispensable position for any contending team.
One face that was missing from the podium on that Sunday in upstate New York was Andre Dawson. Dawson garnered 61 percent of the vote this year, his highest total yet, but is soon to be joined on the ballot by the "better baseball by chemistry" generation.
"The Hawk" broke into the majors with Montreal in 1976 and spent the next ten seasons with Les Expos. Dawson was the 1977 Rookie of the Year and was a prototypical 5-tool player early in his career, routinely turning out 20-20 seasons when those kinds of numbers still meant something. The unforgiving turf at Olympic Stadium wreaked havoc on his knees and turned the fleet-footed center fielder into a right fielder with a cannon arm, and he was awarded the Gold Glove eight times during the 1980s. Dawson toiled in relative anonymity during his time in Montreal, overshadowed by contemporaries such as Dale Murphy, Mike Schmidt and Jack Clark, even playing second fiddle to Gary Carter in his own home park.
In 1987, in an effort to prolong his career by moving to grass and take advantage of his career success in Wrigley Field, Dawson approached the Chicago Cubs regarding a contract offer. Cubs GM Dallas Green was satisfied with Brian Dayett in right field and initially rebuffed Dawson's advances. Not to be deterred, as the legend goes, Dawson presented the Cubs with a blank contract and told them to fill in the salary. He signed a contract for $500,000 with $250,000 in performance bonuses. The Hawk responded with an MVP season, hitting .287 with 49 HR and 137 RBI and became the first player to win the MVP for a last place team. In 1993 Dawson signed with Boston and became only the second player (behind Willie Mays) in Major League Baseball history to hit 400 home runs and steal over 300 bases. He ended his career in 1996 with the Florida Marlins as a role player.
After his playing days were over, Dawson continued to work with the Florida Marlins as a special assistant and is active with the Marlins to this day. Ever the consummate team player, he went so far as shaving his signature mustache this off-season to comply with new manager Joe Girardi's no facial hair rule.
Compared to today's players, Dawson's numbers don't exactly raise eyebrows. He only hit 30+ homers three times and had over 100 RBI four times, but Dawson was a game changer. His menacing scowl at the plate coupled with a vicious swing made him one of the game's most feared hitters. However, in this day and age, Dawson would look out of place in the big leagues. His walk turned into more of a hobble and you could almost hear his knees squeak when he ran, yet he managed to play 21 seasons in the big leagues.
So BBWAA, do the right thing and put the Hawk in the Hall of Fame. Give the man his just reward and remember the last generation of players before baseball became more of a science project than a game, before 400 homers became a meaningless number that will be reached by many an average player.
Besides, who can forget the immortal words of Harry Caray, "Dawson spelled backwards is Nosewad"?