Billy Williams knows. The sweet-swinging outfielder for the Cubs was inducted into Cooperstown in 1987 and remembers how anxious he was in the final days before the ceremony.
"I know he's been there before, but you look at it from a different perspective when you're going up there to be inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame," Williams said. "You get excited -- his family gets excited. I think he's ready to do it. Now he can't wait.
"Now you say, 'I'm ready to go, I've read the speech, I've gone over it 100 times.'"
Dawson, 56, an eight-time All-Star and eight-time Gold Glove Award winner, will be inducted Sunday along with manager Whitey Herzog and umpire Doug Harvey. Williams, 72, was in Cooperstown, N.Y., recently with his 12-year-old grandson to take part in a baseball tournament there.
"Driving back, I was talking to him and [my wife] Shirley and said, 'Andre has to be feeling it right now,'" Williams said. "This is when the adrenaline starts to flow."
Dawson played for the Cubs from 1987-92, winning the National League Most Valuable Player Award in his first season in Chicago when he led the league with 49 home runs and 137 RBIs. Williams was on the Cubs' coaching staff in '87 and '92.
Williams will be part of the Cubs' contingent that will host a reception for Dawson during the weekend festivities in Cooperstown.
Williams recalled practicing his induction speech in his hotel room.
"I imagine I read it about 100 times," Williams said. "Mine wasn't easy. I had a topic that was the 40th anniversary of Jackie Robinson and that's what I talked about.
"I was in San Francisco one morning [prior to the ceremony] and I had them bring up a podium and I talked like it was the Hall of Fame. You want to do it well."
But there is one little bit of advice Williams said Dawson should remember.
"The guys will be sitting there [on the stage], and the whole time you're talking, they're saying, 'Three minutes, three minutes,'" Williams said, chuckling. "The only thing is don't go over three minutes [with the speech]."
Dawson made it into Cooperstown on his ninth try, receiving 77.9 percent of the vote by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. As Cubs fans prepare for The Hawk's arrival in Cooperstown, we'll share some of his highlights with the Chicago team.
Today, we'll feature the 1990 season:
April 10: With temperatures in the mid-30s, Dawson was not in the Opening Day lineup against the Phillies to protect his sore knee. It's the only time in his six years with the Cubs he would not be in the Opening Day lineup.
His knee, plus the lockout, limited Dawson to designated-hitter or pinch-hit duties in Spring Training prior to the '90 season. He was on the Opening Day roster partly because clubs could carry 27 players in the first month of the season following the lockout.
May 8: Trailing the Braves, 8-7, in the bottom of the ninth, Dawson's home run off Joe Boever sent the game into extra innings. Two innings later, he hit a two-run walk-off homer off Dwayne Henry to give the Cubs a 10-8 win.
May 15: One week later, Dawson hit two more home runs off the Braves, this time in Atlanta, in the Cubs' 12-2 win. He was named National League Player of the Week, going 12-for-28 (.429) in that stretch with five home runs and 15 RBIs.
May 22: Dawson set a Major League record when he was intentionally walked five times during a 16-inning 2-1 win over the Reds. Current Cubs manager Lou Piniella was the Reds' manager at that time. Dawson's third walk in extra innings was followed by a base-loaded game-winning single by Dave Clark. Dawson finished the season with an NL-leading 21 intentional walks.
May 31: He was named NL Player of the Month for May. Dawson went 35-for-100 (.350) with nine home runs, seven doubles, 28 RBIs and 19 runs scored in 28 games.
June 30: He played in his 500th Cubs game at San Diego, a 7-3 Chicago win.
July 10: Dawson went 0-for-2 in the All-Star Game at Wrigley Field, a 2-0 NL loss. With the game at Wrigley, Dawson had been asked to participate in the Home Run Derby, an event he won in 1987, but elected to rest his sore knee.
The Cubs would use the All-Star break to announce that Dawson had signed a contract for 1991, making him the first $3 million Chicago player. The contract also included an option that kicked in if Dawson reached 130 "able to play" games in 1991. At the time of the announcement, Dawson and the Cubs acknowledged that the contract would virtually assure Dawson would finish his career in Chicago.
Sept. 13: Against Philadelphia, Dawson played in his 2,000th Major League game, going 2-for-4 with an RBI in a 6-5 win.
Sept. 22: Dawson joined the 300 home run/300 stolen base club, picking up steal No. 300 against the Mets. With more than 2,000 hits, Dawson joined Willie Mays as the only other 300/300/2,000 Major Leaguer.
Oct. 2: He singled in his first at-bat in the first inning against the Phillies for his 100th RBI of the season. Dawson later scored to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead. He was removed from the game with Dwight Smith taking over in right field and did not play in the Cubs' season finale the next day. The Cubs finished tied for fourth at 77-85, 18 games behind Pittsburgh.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less