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So which cap does Dawson wear on his plaque?

Jan 7, 2010, 10:00 AM EST

Dawson Red Sox.jpgUPDATE:  Still read the discussion below because it applies to other players too, but for the record, a few minutes ago MLB.com’s Hal Bodley walked into the Waldorf Astoria ballroom where they’ll have Andre Dawson’s press conference later today and noticed that they have a big portrait of him in an Expos uniform set up.  I’m guessing that’s the Hall’s way of saying what cap he’s gonna have on the plaque.

I ask because MLB.com has a story asking it.  To be honest, though, it seems pretty obvious.

Dawson played 1443 games in Montreal, 867 in Chicago, 121 in Florida and 196 in Boston.  I think we can eliminate Boston and Florida from the conversation, right?  That leaves the Expos and Cubs.

While his OPS and other rate stats are a hair higher in Chicago, he was a gold glove centerfielder for the Expos and a rightfielder for the Cubs (yes, he won two gold gloves for the Cubs too, but how much of that was inertia?).  His MVP came for the Cubs, but he had much, much more aggregate value in an Expos uniform.

Dawson, of course, left Montreal on fairly acrimonious terms, and is on record as saying that he would prefer a Cubs or even a Marlins cap who gave him a chance to play a bit longer, to adorn his plaque. That’s not his choice to make, however.  The players had the choice of what cap they’d wear until 2001.  At that point the Hall made the wise decision to take that choice away from them.  I say wise, because ultimately the Hall of Fame is a museum, and it’s a museum’s job to reflect history, not honor the personal preferences of the honoree.

Which doesn’t mean that more games or more aggregate value always trumps. Reggie Jackson was a better player for a greater number of years with the Athletics than the Yankees, yet he wears a Yankees cap on his plaque. I have no problem with this because, really, when his tale is being told, his exploits with the Yankees are the center of the story. Nolan Ryan has a Rangers cap. Sure, it’s subjective, but it just feels right, doesn’t it? And feel matters. How whack does the pic to the right of this post look? Do we really want history looking like that?

By the same token, Andre Dawson feels like an Expo and, in my mind at least, his plaque has to have an Expos cap.

  1. Craig Calcaterra - Jan 7, 2010 at 2:20 PM

    You’re right, Jonah. He should get the Marlins cap. That’s it. I’m closing the thread.

  2. jonahkeri@gmail.com - Jan 7, 2010 at 2:21 PM

    THANK YOU, Craig. Finally, someone willing to stick up for the greatest figure in sports history: Jeffrey Loria.

  3. Anthony in Montreal - Jan 7, 2010 at 4:46 PM

    First off thank you Jonah Keri and Dean in NY for some realism on the debate. “The Hawk” will always be an EXPO first and foremost. I began following baseball in ’77, his rookie year, and no Cub fan will tell me that Andre was not appreciated in Montreal.The bulk of his numbers were put up with the Expos, and both he and Tim Raines (his best friend) should go into the hof with Expos caps. The comment about Montreal not having fans by Joe in SD only shows how unaware he is of what really happened in this city regarding the loss of the team. When Dawson played with Montreal, we were always ranked in the top 5 to 10 in terms of league attendance. Problems only surfaced after the 94 strike. Thank you Mr. Selig and Mr. Fehr for calling off the season when we were blowing away teams and were on our way to winning the Pennant and who knows, the Series.. Getting back to the topic at hand though, no one can take away the memories we have of Dawson playing centerfield with his cannon of an arm and “hawklike” demeanor at the plate.
    P.S. Montreal nicknamed him “the Hawk”, no one else..

  4. JoAnnA E. Foris - Jan 7, 2010 at 4:53 PM

    I’m a Lifelong Cubs Fan. Andre ‘Hawk’ Dawson hopefully will join MLB-HOF as a (former) Ch. Cubs Player. Now… it’s Past-Time Ron Santo joins HOF, maybe Veterans’ Committe will put in Santo, w/ Greg Maddux, although Maddux won World Series’ w/ Braves, he, (Maddux), started his career w/ Ch. Cubs!!!

  5. Mark C - Jan 7, 2010 at 6:39 PM

    Good question. He spent more years with the Expos, but had more prolific seasons and an MVP award as a Cub. Based on those prolific seasons as a Cub and how the Expos were always giving away their young stars in fire sales, I’d say he should go in as a Cub.

  6. "Rock" for HOF - Jan 7, 2010 at 8:19 PM

    This is always the same “omnipotent” American attitude.
    During the 6 seasons of Andre Dawson with the Cubs, they had an average of 26,900 people to their games. Over a 6 year period between 1979 and 1984, the Expos had an average attendance of 26,500 people… even if they were playing in the “Big O” with Montreal’s bad weather.
    It’s very easy to understand why the fans deserted the stadium after mid 1990’s: not being able to keep their good players and maintain a competitive team without revenue sharing (low television income due to smaller market, low exchange rate for CAN$, higher taxes in Canada, etc.). And Selig-Loria finished the job during the 2000’s.
    Also, if Dawson had some problems with Montreal Expos management staff (mostly Americans, by the way) at the end of his stay, he neved had any problem with the Expos’ fans and his #10 has been retired in Montreal a long time ago.

  7. JR - Jan 9, 2010 at 5:25 AM

    Expos cap for sure, but I’ve always felt that the cap issue should have been solved with a generic cap on the plaque.
    Just an aside: The Expos left Montreal unfortunately, but it was a thriving franchise for a long time and shouldn’t be denigrated. The English speaking fan base in Montreal started dwindling by the 90’s, simply because of Quebec’s xenophobic French language laws. So many left Quebec over the space of 20 years. That’s the real story of why attendance fell in Montreal.

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