Andre Dawson's Hall of Fame plaque will portray him wearing a Montreal Expos cap, rather than that of the Cubs, the Hall announced on Wednesday.
That decision seemed to be a fate accompli since the Jan. 6 news conference in New York when Dawson sat beside a placard that had "The Hawk" decked out in his powder blue Expos uniform and cap with the famous fleur-de-lis "M" symbol on it. Dawson had indicated he'd rather go into the Hall as a Cub. He played six seasons in Chicago after more than a decade in Montreal.
He told WMVP-AM, the ESPN Radio affiliate in Chicago, that he wanted an opportunity to give his opinion to Hall of Fame officials.
"I wanted to tell them what really catapulted me to Hall of Fame status and pretty much what my preference was, but I think their decision had been made. It was a little gut-wrenching for me to hear that, but it's their decision," Dawson said.
"I'm disappointed. I can proudly say that because Chicago was my preference," he added.
The cap decision lingered for three weeks because Hall president Jeff Idelson hadn't had a conversation with Dawson about it. That occurred at the Baseball Assistance Team Dinner in New York on Tuesday night. The Hall took over the cap decision in 2001, when there was some speculation about how Dave Winfield decided to go into the Hall as a Padre rather than as a Yankee.
"Andre Dawson's Hall of Fame career belongs to every one of his fans, in every city across the country," Idelson said in a statement issued by the Hall. "The logo selection is only important from an historical standpoint, as the Museum has a responsibility to properly interpret the game's history. Every Hall of Fame plaque lists all of the teams where an electee played or managed. Fans of 'The Hawk' in every city in which he played should claim Andre as one of their own."
Dawson was elected to the Hall of Fame on Jan. 6, during his ninth year on the ballot, earning 77.9 percent of the votes cast by eligible members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
He will be inducted on July 25 in Cooperstown, N.Y., along with manager Whitey Herzog and umpire Doug Harvey, who were elected in December by the Veterans Committee.
"I respect the Hall of Fame's decision to put an Expos logo on my cap, and I understand their responsibility to make sure the logo represents the greatest impact in my career," Dawson said in the same statement. "Cubs fans will always be incredibly important in my heart, and I owe them so much for making my time in Chicago memorable, as did the fans in Montreal, Boston and South Florida, my home. But knowing that I'm on the Hall of Fame team is what's most important, as it is the highest honor I could imagine."
Precedent for having Dawson enter the Hall with the Expos had already been set. The Expos are now defunct, the franchise having moved to Washington in 2005 and re-christened the Nationals.
Catcher Gary Carter was the first Expo in the Hall when he was elected by the BBWAA in 2003. Carter, like Dawson, came up with the Expos and played his first 11 years of a 19-year career in Montreal.
Carter then moved to New York, where he played his next five years with the Mets, winning the World Series in 1986. In 2003, Carter made it no secret that he would rather have worn a Mets cap into the Hall. It didn't work out that way. Similarly, Dawson followed his lengthy Montreal tour by playing with the Cubs. He was MVP of the National League there in 1987.
Dawson, who had 438 homers and 1,591 RBIs, played his first 11 of 21 seasons with the Expos on the harsh artificial turf of what was called "The Big O." He had 12 knee surgeries in his career.
Dawson said he left Montreal as a free agent after the 1986 season feeling that he didn't get a fair offer from the Expos. So there may be some hard feelings there. Similarly, Carter was traded to the Mets after the 1984 season because the Expos couldn't afford him.