Cooperstown Crier - Your Source for Hometown News - Cooperstown, Baseball Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame

May 6, 2010

Dawson settles in

Staff Writer — The Hawk started to build his new nest Tuesday. National Baseball Hall of Fame electee Andre Dawson took his orientation tour Tuesday at the Cooperstown shrine in preparation for his induction July 25.

Dawson, the lone electee from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, will be enshrined along side Veterans Committee electees Whitey Herzog and Doug Harvey at the Clark Sports Center.

J.G. Taylor Spink Award (writing excellence) winner Bill Madden and Ford C. Frick Award (broadcasting) winner Jon Miller will also be honored.

Dawson, 55, looked as though he could still track down balls in the outfield as he sat in the Hall’s Plaque Gallery and spoke to members of the media for nearly 30 minutes Tuesday.

“I’ve used the word overwhelming on numerous occassions since the announcement,” said Dawson, who resides in Miami. “I’m thankful to have this opportunity today. For me, today helps get my feet under me a little more because I know things are going to speed up. It’s going to be quite a nervous experience for me.”

Dawson calmly and patiently answered questions about his playing days in Chicago and Montreal, about the experience touring the Hall, the influence his mother and grandmother had on him, his upcoming speech and about playing the game the right way _ without performanceenhancing drugs.

Nicknamed “The Hawk,” Dawson was a power hitter in a generation before steroids cast a dark shadow on the game. Dawson hit 438 homers and had 1,591 RBIs in 21 major league seasons with Montreal, Chicago, Boston and Florida from 1976-1996.

He also had speed, finishing with 314 stolen bases.

Dawson, Willie Mays and Barry Bonds are the only members of the 400 home run/300 steals club.

The National League’s Rookie of the Year in 1977, Dawson made eight All-Star appearances, won eight Gold Gloves and earned the NL MVP in 1987, when the Cubs placed last in the NL East. He did all that without performance- enhancing drugs.

“My message will be probably that you control your legacy,” said Dawson, who added he’s nearly completed his speech, outside of some tweaks to shape it a little. “My motto in my speech is going to be if you love the game, the game will love you back. That’s my message to playing the game the right way and not taking the game for granted.

“Your legacy in this game is who you are, how you carry yourself, your character and your integrity,” he continued. “Whether a player elected to use the performance enhancements or whatever, they did it for a reason. Was it the right thing to do? No. That can come back, at some point in time, to bite you in the rear end.”

The game, he said, was too important to tarnish it by using something illegal.

“To me, integrity and character is who you are as a player and that’s something that you’re going to be remembered by,” said Dawson, accompanied on the tour by his wife, Vanessa.

Dawson received 77.9 percent of the votes in the BBWAA voting, which was announced Jan. 6. He needed 75 percent to earn induction.

A player had to be named on at least 405 ballots this year and Dawson received 420 in his ninth year on the ballot. A player can remain on the BBWAA ballot for up to 15 years.

Bert Blyleven fell five votes short of joining Dawson. Blyleven, who has 287 career victories and is fifth in career strikeouts, will be on the ballot for the 14th time next year.

“I really sympathize that Bert didn’t get in because I thought for sure this would be the year,” Dawson said.

“Especially if one of us got in, both of us would get in. ... I just hope next year he can get his due and he can be sitting here.”

An 11th-round draft pick of the Montreal Expos in 1975, Dawson played 11 years north of the border. He’ll enter the Hall with an Expos cap.

Following his time there, he went to Chicago in 1987, spending six seasons with the Cubs. He ended his career with two years in Boston and two in Florida.

“I want to save the end for dedicating it to my (deceased) mother and grandmother,” Dawson said of his induction speech.

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