Cubs to celebrate Dawson on Monday

Cubs to celebrate Dawson on Monday

CINCINNATI -- Cubs fans will have a chance to bow one more time to "The Hawk" on Monday.

Andre Dawson, 56, recently enshrined into baseball's Hall of Fame, will be celebrated prior to the Cubs' game Monday night against the Pirates at Wrigley Field.

Dawson played right field for the Cubs from 1987-92, winning the National League Most Valuable Player Award in his first season in Chicago when he batted .287, hit 49 homers and drove in 137 runs.

Although he was inducted into Cooperstown wearing an Expos cap, Dawson acknowledged the Cubs fans and how special they were to him when he roamed right at Wrigley.

"You were a true blessing in my life," Dawson said in his speech about the Cubs faithful. "I didn't know what it was like to be loved by a city until I got to Chicago. ... You were the wind beneath the Hawk's wings."

The Cubs are not retiring Dawson's No. 8, which is worn by manager Mike Quade, but they will present him with gifts to commemorate his days with the team.

In addition, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley has proclaimed Aug. 30 as "Andre Dawson Day" in Chicago. The first 10,000 fans entering the ballpark will receive a commemorative Dawson cap.

Dawson arrived in an unconventional way. He desperately wanted to get off the artificial turf in Montreal to protect his knees, and his agent, Dick Moss, presented the Cubs with a blank check. General manager Dallas Green filled in $500,000, thinking Dawson would decline. But he accepted the deal.

Not only did Dawson win the MVP in 1987, but he also earned Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards and was named to the National League All-Star team. He led the NL in home runs, total bases and RBIs, and finished in the top 10 in hits (fifth), at-bats (fourth), slugging percentage (sixth) and extra-base hits (third) in '87.

"He was the most professional baseball player I ever played with," former Cubs first baseman Mark Grace said. "That's a vague statement, and I understand that, but he was a pro, a professional, he never missed a day of fly balls, he never missed a day of batting practice or base running. He was a great practicer, and that's why he was a great player."

In his six seasons with the Cubs, Dawson hit 174 home runs and finished with 587 RBIs and a .285 batting average.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.