Friday, January 06, 2006


No player in baseball history worked more diligently, suffered more or did it better than Andre Dawson. In 21 big-league seasons, beginning in 1976 with the Montreal Expos, Dawson batted .279 with 438 home runs, 1,591 RBIs and stole 314 bases. Dawson was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1977 and won the Most Valuable Player award in 1987, his first season with the Chicago Cubs, when he hit .287 and led the league with 49 home runs and 137 RBIs. An eight-time Gold Glove winner and eight-time All-Star, Dawson joined the Cubs in an unusual way. After nine years in Montreal, he wanted to find a team that played on grass, unlike the artificial turf at Olympic Stadium. He approached the Cubs and general manager Dallas Green with a fill-in-the-blank contract. Dawson signed on March 9, 1987, for $700,000. It was one of the best bargains ever in baseball. The '87 season was magical. Dawson hit three homers in consecutive at-bats on Aug. 1 against Philadelphia. On July 7, 1987, he was hit on the left cheek by an Eric Show pitch after hitting three homers in his previous five at-bats. Dawson received 24 stitches, missed two games and pinch-hit in a third before returning full time. The only thing that could stop the quiet, soft-spoken outfielder was his knees, damaged by the years on turf. His .507 career slugging percentage is 4th highest in team history. Dawson also played for the Boston Red Sox, and the Florida Marlins before retiring with 2774 hits, 438 home runs, 314 Stolen Bases, and 1591 RBI. He is 29th on the all-time Home Run list, and 28th on the all-time RBI list. The slim slugger with the field gun arm is again a candidate on the Hall of Fame ballot, to be voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America. This is the fifth year that Dawson, now 51, is on the ballot.


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