This week marks the height of summer festival season. In most major cities across North America, prominent street fairs and concert series are being held.
In Chicago, BP featured the city’s largest baseball at the Taste of Chicago June 24th-26th. As the entire city focuses on the BP Crosstown Cup, the annual head-to-head interleague series between the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox, (part two of the series takes place Fri July 1st-Sunday July 3rd) fans visited the BP Crosstown Cup Fan Zone at the Taste of Chicago and made their mark on the 13-foot baseball.
They shared one “little thing” that makes Chicago baseball special to them.
And they got to meet a Major League Baseball Hall of Famer- very few street fairs can boast of such an opportunity!
By Paul M. Banks
“The fans get a kick out of it, and they get to sign it by telling us what they think makes baseball here in the city so special,” said Andre Dawson who roamed the Cubs outfield from 1987–1992.
Participants had the opportunity to meet the athletes, get personalized autographs, and sign Chicago’s largest baseball, standing 13-feet tall.
“It was one of those humbling experiences and when it was all over, said and done, I was very grateful that those guys took the liberty to find the time to say you’re worthy and put me in,” Dawson said Saturday about making the hall.
Dawson made the hall in his ninth year of eligibility, but I believe that it really doesn’t matter what year you get in, as long as you get in. I’ve always taken issue with the phrase “first ballot hall of famer,” as it implies those who get in on the first ballot are superior to those who don’t. I believe you either have the resume or you don’t; it shouldn’t matter what ballot you’re on, or what year you get in.
I asked Dawson his thoughts on my beliefs.
“It took some time, but the end result is what really matters. The one thing the writers won’t do is crowd the hall,” Dawson responded.
“You got to wait it out, that’s the process. I agree with you, if you’re a hall of famer, you’re a a hall of famer. It’s a very intricate and unique group, and to me, it’s the greatest hall of fame of any sport.”
Dawson possessed that rare combination of power and speed during his playing days. He’s one of just six players in MLB history to accumulate 300 stolen bases and 300 home runs. And one of just three players to achieve 300 SB and 400 HRs during his career.
I also asked Dawson about a popular Cubs urban legend. It is believed that the original date of the first Wrigley Field night game, 8-8-88, was chosen to honor Dawson’s jersey number 8, as he was the reigning league MVP at the time.
“I heard that too. Too bad it was rained out, then it would have really been historic, but no, it had nothing to do with my jersey number,” he said.
Today, Dawson is a regular at Cubs functions, and holds a position within the Florida Marlins organization. He also owns a restaurant in his hometown of Miami.