Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Hawk Nests in Cooperstown...FINALLY!

This is a great day for a great baseball player and a great person. Andre Dawson was the one and only electee to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame this year, and it's about time. Dawson gets in on his 9th try, but trying hard has never been an issue with Dawson, one of the better right fielders of his era.

The Baseball Writers of America named Dawson on 420 of the 529 ballots they cast, almost 78% of the votes, 3% above the minimum. And, as an avid baseball fan, I couldn't be happier for the Miami native who is now a coach with the Florida Marlins, the team for which he finished his 21 year playing career before becoming an executive with the club. Sadly, the end of his playing days came in 1996, meaning he missed playing a single game in a world series by a single year. I spoke with him last season when the Marlins visited Atlanta, and two things struck me. He is still a kind soul, and he still has, what I estimate to be, a 30 inch waistline. I am deeply envious of the latter.

The coolest part if this whole thing is to know the man's history. He played on a pair of wrecked knees in a wrecked ballpark his first 11 years. He was a Montreal Expos outfielder and played on an Olympic Stadium field that was more parking lot than baseball diamond. When Les Expos decided he was no longer worthy of their time of money, he opted to become a Chicago Cub, joining the team by signing a blank contract...telling the Cubs to fill in the amount.

Dawson's numbers were outstanding. 438 home runs and 1,591 RBIs for four teams. And, his right arm was an absolute howitzer.

But, I love the man's story. The fact that he attended an HBCU, FAMU in Tallahassee. He was never in the headlines except for doing the right things in the right way. I'm told he visited the grave sites of his mother, grandmother and aunt before awaiting the call from the Hall with his wife and daughter. Dawson didn't win a World Series ring as a player, but he has always been world class in my eyes. He deserves every bit of praise he gets July 25th in Cooperstown. I hope to be there to watch.

Not bad, Hawk. Not too bad at all.