Like I said yesterday, Andre Dawson is not necessarily my definition of a Hall of Famer on a statistical basis, but I’m fine with his induction because he was, by all accounts, a great guy, he did a lot of unmeasurable stuff that made baseball come alive in Montreal, if only for a while, and he was a really, really enjoyable player to watch. Hall of Famer? Eh, maybe not. But I’m happy he’s going in there if that makes any sense.
But on a personal level, one the things I find most admirable about Dawson — and Jack Morris and Tim Raines, by the way — is that the way they carried themselves after they got royally screwed by the owners’ illegal conduct during the collusion scandals of the 1980s. Each of them hit free agency and found every door closed. They knew what was going on at the time. Hell, everyone did. Maybe there was no other option than to suck it up, play ball and let the union handle the legalities of it all, but people crack as the result of that kind of garbage all the time, and even if it’s not the stuff that makes a Hall of Fame case, they deserve some sort of kudos for that.
Murray Chass — writing in the same article I linked earlier this morning, tells us just how determined The Hawk was to put that crap behind him and play ball:
When he was a free agent after the 1986 season,
Dawson got caught up in collusion, the clubs’ conspiracy aimed at
keeping free agents at home instead of moving for more money.
Dawson, who wanted out of Montreal after 11 years on the Expos
knee-wrecking artificial turf, wasn’t getting any offers when [agent Richard] Moss
decided to make the Cubs’ Dallas Green an offer he couldn’t refuse. He
and Dawson showed up at the Cubs’ spring training site in Arizona and
handed Green a signed contract with the salary line left blank. Green,
they told the Cubs’ president, could write in any salary he chose.
“It wasn’t a monetary issue,” Dawson said. “It was about respect,
about not depriving me of that, about an organization not showing a
sense of loyalty after being there all those years. I was sticking my
Lesser men would have sulked all year when faced with what Dawson and others faced in the mid 80s. As a result of that blank-check deal, Dawson made an even-then paltry $500K the season he hit 49 homers and won the MVP for the Cubs. It’s worth remembering.