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So which cap does Dawson wear on his plaque?

Jan 7, 2010, 10:00 AM EDT

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. ralphdibny - Jan 7, 2010 at 10:08 AM

    Did you just make a “gut feeling” HoF argument? So which hat feels right for Jack Morris?

  2. Tim Kelly - Jan 7, 2010 at 10:12 AM

    Craig,
    As you well know, the ages of 8-12 are the formative years for any baseball fan. And since the Hawk said “when I hit one over the fence at Wrigley Field, I hit it over a Tru-Link Fence” during my formative years, I think we can all agree that he must go in as a Cub…

  3. malomar - Jan 7, 2010 at 10:36 AM

    Isn’t it true that the Hall took the cap decision away from the players because certain owners were offering cash incentives if the player chose their team? And how will anybody decide which cap Bert Blyleven should wear when he finally gets in?

  4. Craig Calcaterra - Jan 7, 2010 at 10:38 AM

    I made gut feeling an argument for Hall of Fame hats. Not enshrinement.
    If we are to even pretend to take seriously the notion that Morris’ induction is deserved because he was the ace of the 80s or pitched to the score or whatvever else bullshit people use to support his Hall of Fame case, he has to go in with a Tigers hat. After all, everyone who says they’re voting for him swears that it’s not because of Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. To put a Twins hat on him would be to admit how much of a sham his case is.

  5. Largebill - Jan 7, 2010 at 10:47 AM

    The default pick is to consider first where the player played the greatest part of their career. With most players (like Dawson) it is fairly obvious. Nolan Ryan spread his career among several teams none for more than 40%. So it wasn’t as obvious. I could imagine him easier as an Angel, but Astros or Rangers works as well. Guys like Thome and Ramirez bounced around after leaving Cleveland. Thome seems an obvious Indians cap. However, Manny could end up with a Red Sox cap since even though he played longer with Cleveland he played several season in Boston and won two WS. Even though as an Indians fan I remember more strongly Blyleven’s years in Cleveland, I’d readily admit he should wear a Twins cap. In years to come more frequent player movement may lead to some tough decisions. I do have a feeling that frequent moves hurts a players HoF likelyhood.

  6. Peter Earl - Jan 7, 2010 at 10:50 AM

    Marlins all the way.
    He is employed in the front office with the Marlins and has been for a while.

  7. MarkH - Jan 7, 2010 at 10:50 AM

    Without looking at B-R, there’s no way I could tell you when Dawson played for the Sox. I’m going to guess a few years in the early 90s.
    (Checks B-R.) Hey, not bad: ’93-’94. (Wow, he had some weird stats in 1994.) But you couldn’t had paid me to remember he played for the Marlins.
    For some reason I always think of Nolan Ryan as an Angel. Which is odd, because I seriously don’t feel that old.

  8. Josh - Jan 7, 2010 at 10:55 AM

    Tim Kelly nailed it!
    When I think of Dawson, I think of Mark Grace, Ryne Sandberg, Shawon Dunston, and Harry Caray. I do not see Montreal, but perhaps that is because I was also 8-14 years-old.
    Also, I think Ogden Development of Neenah, WI is about to pay a little more for their sponsorship on baseball-reference dot com.

  9. adam - Jan 7, 2010 at 10:57 AM

    nolan ryan beat up ventura as a ranger. that’s why i have absolutely no problem with him wearing a ranger hat in the HOF.

  10. Dave - Jan 7, 2010 at 11:07 AM

    Adam —
    Best answer ever.
    Thanks for reminding me of that little incident. Gotta run and look for it on YouTube!

  11. Simon DelMonte - Jan 7, 2010 at 11:13 AM

    When Rickey Henderson retired, someone suggested that given how many teams he was with, and how storied his career was, he should have a plaque for each cap. I suppose in some ideal world, they have alternate plaques for players like him and Dawson and Ryan, and they have special crew whose job is to change them every week.
    In the real world, though, I would say that part of me wants to see Dawson with an Expos cap because they will be three of them in Cooperstown at most (Gary Carter is already there as such, and Tim Raines would be the last, if and when he gets in). And certainly if you ask me who he played with, my snap answer is Montreal.

  12. Matt - Jan 7, 2010 at 11:17 AM

    Jack Morris can wear his Highland Park Scots hat- in the Highland Park High School Hall of Fame.

  13. ssweeps - Jan 7, 2010 at 11:28 AM

    Craig–please use grammar and spell check before you post a story.
    It bugs me.
    An Gold Glove??

  14. lndav - Jan 7, 2010 at 11:36 AM

    Agreed!
    …a Marlins cap who gave him a chance to play a bit longer?? Come on now. Let’s try to put our modifiers in the right place.

  15. ralphdibny - Jan 7, 2010 at 11:39 AM

    I was just joking, Craig. Damn these “words” and their inability to convey tone!
    And though I play devil’s advocate re: Mr. Morris, I really don’t want to see him in the HoF. Of course, I suspect that as a lifelong Braves fan, 1991 just might have something to do with it. Just as my childhood of WGN afternoon games and Harry Carey has something to do with my lack of outrage over Dawson’s enshrinement. Perhaps there should be a line on his plaque that reads “While his statistics aren’t quite Hall of Fame worthy, Dawson evokes a considerable nostalgia in baseball fans for a bygone era that justifies his induction.” If we are going to rip others for their ridiculous biases, after all, best to acknowledge our own.

  16. Howell - Jan 7, 2010 at 11:47 AM

    I think the hat thing greatly depends on your age. I am (newly) 30 years old and I have zero memory of Dawson as an Expo. However I tons of memories of spending summers in Chicago with my grandma and watching the Hawk apply his trade. I think either hat makes a great deal of sense. Also, I think he should be allowed to wear the cubs hat if for no other reason then the Expo’s (and MLB for that matter) so screwed him over so bad.

  17. Simon DelMonte - Jan 7, 2010 at 12:01 PM

    You’ve been reading Posnanski, haven’t you?
    BTW, love the user name.

  18. Lynne - Jan 7, 2010 at 12:06 PM

    When The Hawk was honored at Wrigley, he indicated he’d go into the Hall of Fame in a Cubs uniform. In my humble opinion, the Expos screwed him and when he went, hat in hand to the Cubs, the Cubs took a chance on his bad knees. He made it worth their while, and when the right field fans shouted, “Show ‘em where yer from, Hawk!” he obliged, hitting like the professional he truly was. No fans loved him more than the Chicago fans, and he should go in as a Cub for Howell, Tim, Josh and all the other youngsters he inspired. You may question his worthiness, but put Andre Dawson up against the big egos of baseball and then tell me again why you are only condoning his induction?

  19. Fred - Brandon MB - Jan 7, 2010 at 12:30 PM

    He has to go in as an Expo. His fame and his career was established in Montreal and it is where he played the longest. There was some acrimony when he left the team, but that happens sometimes. Andre wanted to go to Chicago and the Expos wanted him to stay, so it is understandable that there was acrimony. After he left, the Cubs underpaid him and dumped him before he was ready to retire.

  20. ralphdibny - Jan 7, 2010 at 12:44 PM

    Believe it or not, no. I only read his site; I always forget that he posts things at SI that aren’t cross-posted. But thanks to your comment I googled it. Great minds, right? :)
    I was basing my thoughts on the comments from this post, where so many people argued for a Cubs hat based on their fond childhood memories. I’d be curious to know the average age of HoF voters, though. I suspect that Poz-like nostalgia might play a lesser role in Dawson’s induction. Poz has to be one of the younger Hall voters, doesn’t he?

  21. Kevin Lager - Jan 7, 2010 at 1:06 PM

    Where would Andre Dawson be right now if he didn’t start out with the Expos?
    He was an 11th-round pick. Tell me how many other teams let talent as opposed to draft rank/status determine whether or not a 21-year-old rookie gets a shot with the big club in his natural position?

  22. Joe in San Diego - Jan 7, 2010 at 1:45 PM

    The Cub hat. That’s a no-brainer. The Expos are extinct and should have never been. The Hawk was (is) revered in Chicago. His teamate, Sandberg stumped for him to be elected in his own HOF speech. Then the Cubs can RETIRE #8 too.

  23. dean in upstate NY - Jan 7, 2010 at 2:03 PM

    Sorry everyone, but Andre Dawson was and always will be a Montreal Expo. Montreal was a great baseball town up until the baseball strike of 1994.
    Dawson was the keystone of some pretty darn good Expo teams that included Gary Carter, Tim Raines and others. The only bad thing about this was the cavernous Olympic stadium with god aweful astro-turf.
    Which reminds me…I have his autographed rookie baseball card somewhere.

  24. ynotcougar - Jan 7, 2010 at 2:03 PM

    The reason Andre Dawson should be inducted in the HOF as a cub and not as an expo is clear.For the same reason the expos are no longer here.The cubs & wgn provided a packed Wrigley Field on a most daily occurance where as the expos were lucky to get 5,000 to 7,000 fans. Regardless i would rather have my druthers going in as a cub but at least he is in. Thanks for the great memories HAWK and for being a class act all the way.Now we have to get Santo in……

  25. Jonah Keri - Jan 7, 2010 at 2:16 PM

    This thread, and this entire “debate”, is making me very angry.

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