Hardball Heroes is More Hardball's version of the Hall of Fame. To qualify for this honor, players must have demonstrated exceptional athleticism and sportsmanship on and off the field, but whose accomplishments are not celebrated in the Hall of Fame. For May, our inductee is Andre "The Hawk" Dawson.
"No player in baseball history worked harder, suffered more or did it better than Andre Dawson. He's the best I've ever seen. He did it the right way, the natural way." ~Ryne Sandberg
Dawson rose to stardom during his second season in Montreal, winning Rookie of the year for 1977. Although he was a formidable player with the Expos, ten years of playing on the artificial surface of Olympic Stadium devastated his knees. This fueled his decision to move to the natural grass of Chicago's Wrigley Field for the 1987 season. Dawson spent six seasons as a Cubbie, two with Boston, and two for Florida. A list of his achievements includes NL MVP (1987), 8 Golden Gloves - from 1980-1988 (except 1986), 4 Silver Sluggers, and 8 time all star. Dawson is also one of six members of the 300/300 club (300+ home runs/300+ stolen bases).
In his 9927 at bats, Dawson earned 1373 runs (95th over all players), 2774 hits (45th), 1591 rbi (34th), and 438 home runs (36th), an .279 batting average and .802 OPS, and a career fielding average of .983. Dawson epitomizes the "five tool" player. However, Dawson is also the prime example of the 'borderline' candidate for the Hall of Fame. The major obstacle preventing his admission is his average OBP (.323) coupled with slightly above average batting statistics (as opposed to a stellar average). Last year, Dawson received 358 ballots in favor of his inclusion, 50 votes shy of what he needed to be inducted.
Dawson never won a World Series, but did earn a ring in 2003 working as a member of the Florida Marlin's staff. Currently, he works as an assistant to the Marlin's president, David Samson. Dawson is also president of the Andre Dawson Foundation, which funds "education, social enrichment, and development of amateur athletics of the disadvantage youth" and "the education, testing and counseling of individuals in the fight against Sickle Cell Anemia, cancer, etc." by selling autographed Andre Dawson memorabilia.
Technically, Dawson is already in the Hall of Fame, as the 1994 recipient of the Hutch Award, whose display and list of recipients reside in the hallowed halls of Cooperstown.
Past Hardball Heroes inductees include: Harold Baines, Dale Murphy, and Bert Blyleven.
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