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Maybe the most admirable thing about Andre Dawson

Jan 7, 2010, 11:30 AM EST

Andre Dawson Cubs.jpgLike I said yesterday, Andre Dawson is not necessarily my definition of a Hall of Famer on a statistical basis, but I’m fine with his induction because he was, by all accounts, a great guy, he did a lot of unmeasurable stuff that made baseball come alive in Montreal, if only for a while, and he was a really, really enjoyable player to watch.  Hall of Famer? Eh, maybe not. But I’m happy he’s going in there if that makes any sense.

But on a personal level, one the things I find most admirable about Dawson — and Jack Morris and Tim Raines, by the way — is that the way they carried themselves after they got royally screwed by the owners’ illegal conduct during the collusion scandals of the 1980s.  Each of them hit free agency and found every door closed. They knew what was going on at the time. Hell, everyone did. Maybe there was no other option than to suck it up, play ball and let the union handle the legalities of it all, but people crack as the result of that kind of garbage all the time, and even if it’s not the stuff that makes a Hall of Fame case, they deserve some sort of kudos for that.

Murray Chass — writing in the same article I linked earlier this morning, tells us just how determined The Hawk was to put that crap behind him and play ball:

When he was a free agent after the 1986 season,
Dawson got caught up in collusion, the clubs’ conspiracy aimed at
keeping free agents at home instead of moving for more money.

Dawson, who wanted out of Montreal after 11 years on the Expos
knee-wrecking artificial turf, wasn’t getting any offers when [agent Richard] Moss
decided to make the Cubs’ Dallas Green an offer he couldn’t refuse. He
and Dawson showed up at the Cubs’ spring training site in Arizona and
handed Green a signed contract with the salary line left blank. Green,
they told the Cubs’ president, could write in any salary he chose.

“It wasn’t a monetary issue,” Dawson said. “It was about respect,
about not depriving me of that, about an organization not showing a
sense of loyalty after being there all those years. I was sticking my
neck out.”

Lesser men would have sulked all year when faced with what Dawson and others faced in the mid 80s.  As a result of that blank-check deal, Dawson made an even-then paltry $500K the season he hit 49 homers and won the MVP for the Cubs.  It’s worth remembering.

  1. Charles Gates - Jan 7, 2010 at 11:43 AM

    Like I said yesterday, Andre Dawson is not necessarily my definition of a Hall of Famer on a statistical basis, but I’m fine with his induction because he was, by all accounts, a great guy, he did a lot of unmeasurable stuff that made baseball come alive in Montreal, if only for a while, and he was a really, really enjoyable player to watch.
    You and Old Gator best buds now?

  2. GBSimons - Jan 7, 2010 at 11:43 AM

    When I first glanced at the headline, I thought it said “adorable” instead of “admirable,” which threw me for a couple seconds.

  3. RoyceTheBaseballHack - Jan 7, 2010 at 12:00 PM

    If you’re down on Hawk’s election to the HOF, and never had a chance to see him actually play in person, then you’re at a disadvantage to those of us who did. I tried to get to every Expos-Astros game I could when I lived in Houston during that time. I never had a shortage of reasons to go, but made an effort go see The Expos when they were there just to see him. Dawson had an unmistakable Presence on the field that only great players have. Obviously, Numbers are valuable, and a big part of the criteria used by the folks who do the voting, but in Dawson’s case, I honestly think they saw a guy who played damned hard, had better than average talent, and made things happen. My friends and I saw him stretch a double out of a pedestrian single once that was so impressive, we were shaking our heads about it for a week. Kudos to Dawson.

  4. Art - Jan 7, 2010 at 12:34 PM

    always a Cub to me. fugin adorable dude, too.

  5. billy - Jan 7, 2010 at 1:23 PM

    Let’s never forget that Andre Dawson, similar to Jim Rice, played the better part of his career before the steroids era of MLB. If he had so chosen to use steroids to extend his career he would have hit well over 500 HRs, as well as, hit safely over 3k times.

  6. Mike G. - Jan 7, 2010 at 1:34 PM

    Of course, that’s not how Dawson told the story during his press conference. If someone else had messed up the telling the way Chass apparently did, Chass would still be whining about it.

  7. john pileggi - Jan 7, 2010 at 2:05 PM

    You can debate the HOF issue, but no one doubts the guy is a class act. It is a cliche, but that counts for a great deal.

  8. JR - Jan 9, 2010 at 5:19 AM

    Baseball was very alive in Montreal long before Andre Dawson. Just to correct the throwaway line in the column. Royce the Baseball Hack is dead right about the Hawk’s value, I saw him play for years and he was an impact player. He’s a Hall of Famer for sure.

  9. xp spyware - Jan 14, 2010 at 9:55 AM

    This is a terrific place, I can not believe that I didn’t stumble upon it earlier

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