Andre Dawson’s Most Memorable Moments

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Andre Dawson has long been considered one of the best players of his generation. And this weekend, the Hawk is at long last coming to roost in Cooperstown.

Dawson was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in his 9th year of eligibility. It’s an honor some say is coming eight years after his enshrinement should have happened. He’s one of the best ever to wear the red white and blue in two different countries, first for the Montreal Expos and later for the Chicago Cubs.

In honor of his legendary career, we here at The Sports Bank decided to take a look back at some of the most memorable moments of Dawson’s illustrious career.

By Matt Lindner

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Heck of an Inning – July 30, 1978 and September 24, 1985

In just his second season in the big leagues, Dawson put himself in rarified error during the third inning of a game on July 30, 1978 in Atlanta. He took Braves’ starter Tommy Boggs out of the yard to lead off the inning and then later in the same inning would also homer off Boggs’ replacement Craig Skok. 7 years later, history would repeat itself – ironically enough at Wrigley Field. In the 5th inning on September 24, Dawson would homer off of Ray Fontenot and Jon Perlman, becoming only the second player after Willie McCovey to hit two home runs in the same inning twice.

Blank Check – 1987 Season

Dawson was so desperate to get out of Montreal and into Wrigley Field that he offered the Cubs an unprecedented deal they couldn’t refuse. Dawson put his signature on a blank contract, letting the team decide what they wanted to pay him. It turned out to be the best $750,000 in salary plus incentives the team had ever spent. Dawson kept up his end of the deal by having a monster first season in the Friendly Confines, hitting .287 with 49 HR and 137 RBI, winning the NL MVP award on a team that finished in last place.

You mess with the bull, you get the horns – July 7, 1987

One at bat after hitting a home run off of San Diego’s Eric Show, Dawson was hit in the head with a Show fastball. Dawson remained on the ground for a couple of moments and then in one of the most surreal sights ever seen on a ballfield decided to administer some frontier justice of his own. He got up and made a charge at Show, chasing him around the infield and back into the San Diego dugout despite having several grown men hanging on him in an effort to save Show from getting a beat down.

What, are you scared or something? – May 22, 1990

Then-Reds manager Lou Piniella employed an unusual and unprecedented strategy when it came to pitching to Dawson – he ordered his pitchers not to. Reds pitchers intentionally walked Dawson 5 times in a 16 inning contest, more than any other player before or since in a single game. The strategy backfired though as two of the batters hitting after Dawson (Dave Clark and Luis Salazar) drove in the game tying and game winning runs as the Cubs beat the Reds 2-1.

Mr. 400/300 – April 15, 1993

With one swing of the bat at Fenway Park, Dawson became a member of one of baseball’s most exclusive clubs. Dawson took an offering from Indians starter Jose Mesa high and deep over the wall at Fenway, becoming only the second player ever at the time (after Willie Mays) to hit 400 HR and steal 300 bases in his career.

Since Dawson played his last game for the Cubs in 1992, a grand total of 9 players and 2 coaches have donned his legendary No. 8, with third base coach Mike Quade currently sporting it. Those players? In order: Mark Parent (1994-95), Todd Pratt (1995), Doug Glanville (1997), Gary Gaetti (1998-99), Sandy Martinez(1998), Joe Girardi (2000), Alex Gonzalez (2002-2004), Nomar Garciaparra (2004), and last but not least, famous pugilist Michael Barrett (2004-2007). All due respect to the gentlemen in that list, but that’s not exactly a murderer’s row.

So why not retire the number? After all Dawson is as beloved around the Friendly Confines as any Cub past or present. He embodied everything the organization stands for, played with reckless abandon and made sure that nobody who paid for a ticket to see him play left feeling disappointed they did so.

Not to mention he put up some MONSTER numbers. Much is made of his ’87 campaign, but in his six seasons on the North Side, Dawson never hit less than 20 home runs in an era when hitting 20 home runs was still something of an accomplishment.

He also continued his reign as one of the premier defensive outfielders in all of baseball during that time as well, winning a pair of Gold Gloves and keeping runners honest with his strong throwing arm. One of the most vivid memories from my childhood is seeing the Hawk gun down a runner at first base on what would otherwise have been a sure single.

Regardless, while Dawson may not be entering the Hall wearing the cap that he wanted, the fact of the matter is he’s in and there’s no question that he deserves it. Congratulations sir on a job well done.

Matt Lindner is a contributor to ESPN.com and MLB.com.

Comments

  1. paulmbanks says

    and he did awesome commercials for tru-link.

    i remember that ad from my childhood “when it hit it over the fence at wrilgey filed i hit it over a tru-link fence”

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