Some people may know him as The Hawk.
Others may know him as Awesome Dawson.
However you know him, pro baseball player, Andre Dawson, is best known for a career that spanned two decades and landed him in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The 8-time NL All-Star made Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player, and is one of only eight major league baseball players in history to have stolen 300 bases and made 300 home runs during their career.
Pretty impressive stuff.
But still, there’s way more to the record-breaking baseball legend than just these stats, and we’ve rounded those up for you here.
Andre Dawson: 13 things you didn’t know about The Hawk
1. He got his nickname from his uncle.
He was dubbed The Hawk by his uncle when he was only 9 years old.
As he tells it, “You know, a lot of kids would back away, they would be afraid of the ball. He said that I would attack it, and it would remind of a hawk.”
2. He doesn’t blame Olympic Stadium for his knee injuries.
The knee injuries that ended the baseball great’s career actually started when he was in high school, not while playing the artificial turf at Olympic Stadium in Montreal. Andre Dawson played football in high school, and doctors acknowledged that his first injury procedure was poorly done., a sad fact about Andre Dawson. This, in turn, made it more difficult to fix the damage caused later in his professional career.
3. He could have played for Chicago earlier.
The late Buck O’Neil, who at the time scouted for the Chicago Cubs, was pushing to have Andre Dawson join the team earlier that his 1987 signing. Scouting director, Vedie Himsl, wasn’t convinced.
4. Didier spotted his potential.
Andre Dawson was playing center field for the Florida A & M Rattlers, when he caught Mel Didier’s attention. The Expos scout was able to sign him because other teams hadn’t recognized his potential. Later, Didier compared Dawson to Hank Aaron.
In his scouting report he wrote, “(Hank) Aaron had the quickest bat I’ve ever seen. (Andre Dawson) has a bat like that and he can run and he can throw. He’s going to be an outstanding player.”
5. His original nickname wasn’t The Hawk.
Before his days as The Hawk, Dawson’s family called him Pudgy, an interesting Andre Dawson fact. When he was asked about this later, Dawson explained that he wasn’t even overweight as a kid. It was just a nickname his family used.
6. The Cubs caught him at a good time.
Andre Dawson explained that after 10 years as a free agent, Montreal’s proposal was a $200,000 pay cut. In his own words, if he was going to take a pay cut he’d rather go somewhere that the game could be fun for him again.
“I will enjoy it and I can relax and hopefully take a lot of the wear and tear off my knees by getting off the Astro Turf.”
Dawson accepted an offer from the Cubs, who signed him with a blank check.
7. He never made it to the World Series.
With both Montreal and the Cubs, Andre Dawson reached the playoff rounds. His teams were 6-9 in the playoffs, and he hit a combined .186 with zero home runs in 63 at bats. However, an unfortunate fact about Andre Dawson is that he did not reach the World Series.
8. He has a different perspective on his success.
When asked what he was most proud of in his baseball career, Dawson didn’t mention his 1987 MVP or 1977 Rookie of the Year awards.
He explained that his Gold Gloves stand out more for him, “because of defensive excellence and skills.”
9. Fans cried for him.
Some fans have claimed Dawson is more beloved than classic great Sammy Sosa during his 60-home run seasons. Lin Brehmer—of WXRT-FM—tells of how fans used to bow down to Dawson from the bleachers. In his last at-bat of that season, he hit a homer, and bowed down to his fans in the bleachers. Brehmer and many others cried tears of joy.
10. He wanted to wear a Cubs hat into the Hall of Fame.
Although Dawson pointed out that the important thing was making it into the Hall of Fame, and that he respected the decision as it related to the history of baseball, he acknowledges that it would have been his preference to wear a Cubs cap, an interesting fact about Andrew Dawson.
11. His work ethic earned him the respect of fans and teammates.
Dawson was widely respected for his work ethic and commitment to studying his sport. Long before it was expected that professional athletes study the game statistics and strategies, he was often spotted with a clipboard in the dugout. He documented pitches and pitcher tendencies.
Perhaps this is why—by the time he retired—Dawson ranked number 10 in Major League history for home runs and extra base hits. He also ranked sixth for outfield putouts and total chances, and seventh in National League history as an outfielder.
Although several records have been broken over time, at one time Dawson held the Expos franchise records for career games, runs scored, hits, doubles, home runs, runs batted in, total bases, extra base hits, and at-bats.
12. He withstood massive knee injuries to survive the big leagues.
We all hear stories about how one knee surgery can end a baseball player’s Major League hopes. Andre Dawson had 12 knee surgeries over his 21 season career.
Former teammate, Shawon Dunston, famously claimed that “If Andre didn’t have bad knees, he would have finished with 600 home runs and 500 stolen bases.”
13. He has skills off the field, too.
Following his 1996 retirement, Dawson didn’t sit back and enjoy his retirement. He owns a restaurant—the Mahogany Grille—and a funeral home in Florida, where he lives with his wife.
With a record like Andre Dawson’s, it’s no wonder he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in July 2010. When he was inducted into the Hall of Fame, Ryne Sandberg said in a speech:
“No player in baseball history worked harder, suffered more, or did better than Andre Dawson.”
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