It took some patience on his part, but Andre Dawson is finally being rewarded for his stellar Major League Baseball career with the ultimate honor – induction in to the Professional Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Dawson, who played 21 seasons, received the necessary 75% of inclusion on ballots to be elected after failing to do so on his first eight tries since becoming eligible for nomination. Dawson may be the beneficiary of some of the aftermath of the Steroids Era in baseball. Said differently, his accomplishments may now seem more impressive knowing what we now do about the generation of sluggers that came after him in the ’90s and ’00s.
My favorite Dawson accomplishment is the fact that he’s one of only three players to ever have more than 400 HRs and 300 SBs – Barry Bonds and Willie Mays were the other two. The Hawk also won 8 straight Gold Gloves in the ’80s, was the 1987 NL MVP and was generally well liked by teammates, other players around the league and of course, by the media, who votes for the Hall each year.
Dawson joined 790 The Ticket in Miami to talk about the ultimate honor recently bestowed upon him, what it was like getting the call from the Hall, whether he was bitter for not getting in earlier than he did, and what he will remember most fondly and vividly from his illustrious and long playing career in the Major Leagues.
On what the call was like when he heard about:
“Oh man, I was sitting there waiting on pins and needles, and it looks like it’s not going to happen and then the last 20 minutes or so before the announcement, you get the call, see it’s a 212 number, that’s the area code you’re looking for, and on the other line is Mr. _____ (SRI couldn’t determine the name of the HOF official mentioned here) and he tells you congratulations, you’ve been elected to the Hall of Fame. I got a sinking filling in my stomach, pure elation, it’s a feeling you can’t really describe. And I’m sure the full impact of it, I won’t feel it for a few days or so, but I’m very excited.”
On if he had grown bitter about having to wait so long for the nomination:
“Not necessarily bitter. You get frustrated and disappointed, but when my mom passed away, it kind of lost its luster. It was something that I didn’t quite look forward to during the time, when it came time for the voting process and the announcement, you kind of be optimistic. But like I said, it kind of lost its luster a little bit knowing that she wouldn’t be around to witness and enjoy that moment. But when you do get the announcement and you do get in, you’re still excited to a degree that’s very indescribable.”
On what he was thinking when the announcement time inched closer – typically players receive the call earlier than Dawson did:
“At that point I thought it wasn’t going to happen. I made the comment to my wife I guess it’s not going to happen again. And she walked out of the room and I got the call about 2 minutes later. About 1:40, so it was close to the announcement time, and at that time, I felt well, it’s just another year.”
On if he has an issue with the selection process being largely determined by guys who have never played the game before at the MLB level:
“Well, you’d like to think they tend to do a commendable job for the most part, but you know, they have their ideas and reasons why they don’t select – I was quite surprised that, how one guy voted for 10 players and another guy voted for 8 players; and I saw another guy that voted for 4 players and I wasn’t one of those individuals. I just think, summing it all up, they don’t have agendas but their criterias seem to change from year to year, and there seems to be a set criteria other than that of the guys with the automatic numbers.
On if he thinks the fact he didn’t play on many good teams had anything to do with why he wasn’t elected earlier than he was:
“Well what I think they took in to account was I didn’t win anything, I didn’t play in a World Series, that’s probably first and foremost. So much was made of the on base percentage which is such a small fraction of the overall picture. And you know, like I said, their criteria is what it is. I didn’t let it disappoint me to the point where I was having ill feelings towards any of the writers. I still feel they have a job to do. The only problem I would have is if a writer got a ballot and he submitted the ballot or sent it back blank.”
On what he remembers most fondly or distinctly from his long playing career in the Major Leagues:
“I look at the fact that I played in a different country. I played in another country for a number of years. I played in two of the major media centers in Boston and Chicago. Then I got an opportunity to come and play at home. Not that that was the best part of my career, you know, waking up to a telephone ringing every day. But I was able to do that over a 21 year period, and in my opinion, longevity was the one thing I was most proud of.”