Dawson treats Expos fans like jilted lovers
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Newest Hall-of-Famer Andre Dawson will be inducted into Cooperstown on July 25 wearing an Expos cap rather than sporting the logo of the Cubs, an organization with which he earned his 1987 MVP Award. He told a Chicago radio station in an interview on Wednesday morning that he's none too happy about it. Dawson called the Hall's cap decision "gut-wrenching" and claimed he "had trouble sleeping" on Tuesday night after finding out. Gary Carter is the only other Expos-wearing plaque in the Hall. The Expos became the Washington Nationals in 2005.
Dawson was drafted, signed, developed and spent the first 11 years of his magnificent major-league career in an Expos uniform. He was a dynamic NL superstar, considered the best player of the '80s in most player polls. The majority of his career hits and the career-defining persona of The Hawk took flight in Montreal. The Expos posted the NL's best overall record from 1979-82 and lost out in the final week to the eventual World Series winner in 1979 (the Pirates), 1980 (the Phillies), 1981 (the Dodgers on Blue Monday) and 1982 (the Cards). They were on the way to 3 million in attendance in 1981 when the strike hit in the days when NL attendance was counted as asses-in-seats instead of tickets sold.
Part of Dawson's Hall-of-Fame appeal was the dazzling way he swooped the outfield alleys at Olympic Stadium, always at full speed, first in centre and then in right, lunging to make jaw-dropping catches, playing one hoppers off the wall and stopping runners in their tracks. By the time he got to the more forgiving Wrigley Field garden, his knees were about shot and he was more one-dimensional as a tremendous power hitter in a bandbox home field.
Hawk can be forgiven for his current disappointment. He obviously played up the heartbroken Cubs aspect of his reaction because he was being interviewed on an all-sports Chicago station. But he can make up for that in Cooperstown with an appropriate recognition of the millions of fans, both French and English, across Canada that rejoiced in his nomination to Cooperstown in January.
Yes he never got over the fact of collusion that drove him from Montreal into the grateful arms of the Cubs. But collusion was industry-wide, not just an Expos thing. He should be pissed at baseball because if it was only the one team it could not be called collusion. He was also rightfully upset when the Expos misguidedly honoured the uniform No. 10 of Rusty Staub in the late '80s with no acknowledgment that Hawk had worn with honour the same uniform number. The club tried to make up fort it later with a duplicate 10 for Dawson, but it was too late. Nevertheless, Hawk, it's time to move on.
The Hall of Fame did the right thing with the Expos logo on the bronze plaque. Hall of Fame voters did the right thing by voting him in his ninth try. It's time for Hawk to do the right thing and celebrate the fact of being among the immortals and getting there the right way, via hard work and with dignity.