Dawson was denied entry into Baseball's Hall of Fame on Tuesday, receiving 309 votes, or 56.7 percent. A player needs 75 percent to be elected into Cooperstown by the voting members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, and Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr. were the only players to receive that in the latest voting.
This was the sixth year that "The Hawk" was on the ballot. His highest vote total percentage was 61 percent in 2006 (317 votes). He received 45.34 percent (214 votes) in 2002, his first year on the ballot; 50 percent (248 votes) in 2003; 50 percent (253 votes) in 2004; and 52.32 percent (270 votes) in 2005.
Dawson will be back on the 2008 Hall of Fame ballot, along with former teammates Tim Raines and Shawon Dunston. Raines and Dawson were together in Montreal from 1979-86, and Dawson was with Dunston and the Chicago Cubs from 1987-92. The two can vouch for the type of player Dawson is.
In 21 big-league seasons, beginning in 1976 with the Expos, Dawson batted .279 with 438 home runs, 1,591 RBIs and stole 314 bases. Dawson was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1977 and won the Most Valuable Player Award in 1987, his first season with the Cubs, when he hit .287 and led the league with 49 home runs and 137 RBIs. He finished second in MVP voting twice (1981 and '83).
Not even a fastball to his face could stop Dawson in '87. On July 7 that year, he was hit on the left cheek by an Eric Show pitch after hitting three homers in his previous five at-bats. Dawson received 24 stitches, missed two games and pinch-hit in a third before returning full time. The only thing that could stop the quiet, soft-spoken outfielder was his knees, damaged by the years on artificial turf.
Right-field bleacher fans at Wrigley Field would bow to Dawson as he took the field. And rightfully so. All-time, he ranks 29th in RBIs, 35th in home runs and 22nd in extra-base hits. Dawson is one of six players to hit 300 home runs and steal 300 bases. He's the only eligible player with more than 1,000 career extra-base hits who is not in the Hall of Fame. He's the only eligible player ranked in the top 25 in career total bases not in Cooperstown.
An eight-time Gold Glove winner and eight-time All-Star, Dawson was named NL Player of the Year by the Sporting News in 1981 and '87. He totaled 100 RBIs four times, 20-plus homers 13 times, and 30-plus doubles five times. How revered was he? On May 22, 1990, the Cincinnati Reds intentionally walked Dawson five times in a 16-inning game. The Cubs won, 2-1.
Dawson, 52, played for the Expos, the Cubs, the Boston Red Sox and the Florida Marlins, with whom he is still associated as a special assistant to the president.
During Ryne Sandberg's induction speech at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in July 2005, he mentioned teammates he respects because they played the game right. Dawson was high on that list.
"No player in baseball history worked harder, suffered more or did it better than Andre Dawson," Sandberg said of the rifle-armed outfielder. "He's the best I've ever seen.
"I watched him win an MVP for a last-place team in 1987 [with the Cubs], and it was the most unbelievable thing I've ever seen in baseball," Sandberg said. "He did it the right way, the natural way, and he did it in the field and on the bases and in every way, and I hope he will stand up here someday."
Maybe 2008 will be Dawson's year.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.