Sunday, July 10, 2011

Familiar Faces / Strange Places: Andre Dawson / Marlins

Today is Andre Dawson's birthday, I am posting this today in honor of "The Hawk".

Andre Dawson made his major league debut for the Montreal Expos on September 11th, 1976 in Pittsburgh. He appeared in 24 games that season. In 1977 he became a regular for the Expos and was awarded the National League Rookie of the Year.

He spent 11 knee wrecking seasons on the astroturf in Montreal, making it to three All Star games and winning six gold gloves. He finished second in the MVP voting in 1981 (behind Mike Schmidt) and 1983 (behind Dale Murphy).

After the 1986 season in Montreal he became a free agent and planned on joining a team whose home field had natural grass. However, due to collusion on the part of the Major League Baseball owners, he was unable to attract any offers. Dawson campaigned for the Cubs, but GM Dallas Green stated he wanted to go with Brian Dayett instead. Not to be deterred Dawson and his agent showed up at 1987 Cubs spring training with a signed blank contract. Green initially mocked the stunt, but they reached an agreement on a salary of $500,000, with a $250,000 in incentives if he made the All-Star team, started in the All-Star Game, and won the NL MVP. That season, he did all three. He became the first player to ever win an MVP award while playing for a last place team.

Andre became the heart and soul of the Cubs, and to this day remains as one of the most popular players in Cubs history. When the Chicago Cubs announced the date of the teams first ever night game at Wrigley Field, they choose August 8, 1988 (8/8/88) to honor their superstar wearing #8.

After the 1992 season, Dawson signed with the Boston Red Sox and stayed for 2 seasons. He hit his 400th career HR in Boston off of Cleveland Indians Jose Mesa on April 15th, 1993. Andre played his last two years with the Florida Marlins, where he played sparingly and retired after the 1996 season. His final game was a pinch hitting appearance in the Houston Astrodome.

Dawson finished his career with 2,774 hits, 438 home runs, 314 stolen bases, and 1,591 RBI. He is one of only three members of the 400 HR-300 SB club, along with Barry Bonds and Willie Mays. In 1997, The Expos retired Dawson's #10 (the number had been previously retired for Rusty Staub). In 2010 the Washington Nationals placed Dawson in its "Ring of Honor" at Nationals Park.

Andre 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. The Hall of Fame rejected his request to go into the Hall as a Cub, and his plaque has him in a Montreal Expos cap. He currently works in the Florida Marlins organization with fellow hall-of-famer Tony Perez.


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