For a former Major League Baseball player such as Andre Dawson to have to wait nine years to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame remains a question to quite a few. Dawson was an eight-time All Star and was just one of three MLB players to hit 400 homers and steal more than 300 bases.
The wait is now over as Dawson will lead the 2010 class and will be inducted today in Cooperstown, NY. Other members of the class include former manager Whitey Herzog, broadcaster Jon Miller and sports writer Bill Madden.
Dawson was an 11th-round draft pick out of Florida A&M in 1975 and was selected by the Montreal Expos. It did not take him long to make it to the big leagues and found himself named the center field starter in in 1975. His rookie year, he hit 19 home runs, had 65 RBI’s and stole 21 bases to capture the1975 National League Rookie of the Year honors.
He played just over a decade at center field on the artificial turf in old Olympic Stadium where his knees took a pounding. They had to be drained on a regular basis because of swelling and this prompted him to make a change when he was asked to take a pay cut.
“I was a free agent and I really didn’t know what was going to happen,” Dawson said. The decision that my agent and I made was there really isn’t going to be offers from teams and we’re just going to have to make an offer that won’t be turned down.”
The Chicago Cubs bought in and ended up pulling off one of the greatest deals in modern baseball. He responded by hitting 49 homers and had 137 RBI’s in his first season with the Cubs as well as winning the Gold Glove in his new position in right field. Dawson beat out Ozzie Smith for MVP honors that year and became the first member of a last place team to win the award.
Dawson will be sporting an Expos cap on his Hall of Fame plaque after hoping it would be one of the Cubs. He does understand why though. saying that “Montreal was a platform, but Chicago probably catapulted me to that status to be able to play another six years and play on a natural playing surface.”
Dawson spent another five years with the Cubs, helping them to the NL east title in 1989. He ended his career with 438 home runs, 2,774 hits, 1,591 RBI’s and 314 stolen bases. Dawson was also known for his strong arm after notching 10 or more assists a season 16 times and finishing his career with 157 total.