Andre Dawson is largely responsible for my love of baseball. When I was a toddler in the early ’90s, if I wasn’t watching Ghostbusters, my mom would usually have Cubs games on WGN. And Andre Dawson, The Hawk, was always featured prominently. I could barely talk but I knew I liked him and the way he played.
As of today, he’s in the Hall of Fame. And I’m left scratching my head as to why it took him this long to be elected.
The man played for 21 mostly dominant seasons, during a time when pitching ruled baseball with an iron fist. Dawson was one of few offensive stars throughout the ’80s and has both Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player awards to his name. Hell, he made the Montreal Expos relevant.
But that doesn’t tell the whole story, either. Dawson just wanted to play, no matter what. In an oft-repeated story, he handed the Cubs a blank check before the 1987 season and told them to pay him whatever they wanted. All he did was have one of the best offensive years of the 1980s, hitting .287 with a staggering 49 homers and 137 RBI.
Sure, ‘87 was his career year, but he was no slouch the rest of the way, either. He had a career .279 batting average, 438 home runs, 1591 runs batted in, and 314 stolen bases. He is in a pretty exclusive club, too, as one of three players to have 400 home runs and 300 stolen bases. The other two? Only Barry Bonds and Willy Mays.
He also won eight Gold Gloves. He had a lot of range in the outfield and he had a cannon, gunning down baserunners seemingly at will, as his 157 assists show.
I guess the only thing that kept Dawson out for the first eight years of his Hall eligibility was his career .323 on-base percentage. Admittedly, that’s not good. But you have to remember that nobody in baseball, from the front offices to the managers to the players, cared about on-base percentage until this past decade, when detailed statistics gathering like Sabermetrics became popular. All anyone wanted Dawson to do was drive in runners, which he did extremely consistently; walks be damned.
And now it’s official for Andre Dawson. All those runners he drove in, all those bases he stole, and all those spectacular plays he made in the outfield equate to one thing: a Hall of Famer.