For years he flew across major league outfields with a hawk’s ferocity. He often played like there was no tomorrow.
Sadly, it was the latter form of play that has Rattler Andre “The Hawk” Dawson still looking for his induction into the baseball Hall of Fame. Years of playing on the rock-hard artificial surface at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium left him with bad knees later in his career.
This year is the fifth time Dawson has been not been awarded baseball’s highest calling.
During his 20-year career, the Miami native had 438 home runs, 1,591 RBIs, 503 doubles, 2,774 hits and 314 steals.
Dawson’s resume is comparable to, or better than, 14 of the 18 leftfielders currently in the Hall. His statistics are better than inductees, Ralph Kiner, Chick Hafey and Goose Goslin.
In the years in which Kiner, Hafey and Goslin were inducted, there was a waiting list to gain entry into Cooperstown. Only 36 of the 196 players in the Hall were elected on the first ballot.
Dawson’s numbers have not changed since he retired in 1996. He was deserving of being elected in 2001 – his first year of eligibility – as much as this year.
The wait-until-next-year mantra might have worked for Dawson in his six years with the Chicago Cubs. Not so in Hall of Fame induction.
Next year, Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn will be in their first year of eligibility, along with Mark McGwire, whose legacy may be tarnished for his alleged steroids use.
Even with a more inundated pool of candidates to choose from, Dawson may get his place in history 18 months from now. He fell 73 votes short of the required 75 percent needed for induction this year.
“The Hawk” routinely played on bad teams-his only playoff appearance was in 1989 with the Cubs. Even when he won the MVP award in 1987, his team finished last.
His major league career alone will ensure Dawson will be remembered among the lexicon of great FAMU athletes and that should earn him a place among baseball’s immortals.
Will Brown is a senior newspaper journalism student from Rockledge. He can be reached at email@example.com.