Andre Dawson lands in baseball’s Hall of Fame

By Paul Hurst

Hall of Fame

Congratulations to Andre Dawson, the sole member of the Hall of Fame’s ‘Class of 2010’.

In his ninth year of eligibility, ‘The Hawk’ finally gained his entry into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Dawson received 77.9% of the vote — enough to take him over the 75% threshold needed for enshrinement in the Hall, in Cooperstown, New York, as voted for by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Dawson spent 20 years in the Majors, compiling a .279 batting average, but was known better for his slugging, ending his career with 438 home runs and 1591 RBIs. He was also known as an excellent fielder, until hampered by knee problems, winning a total of 8 Gold Gloves for his outstanding play in the outfield.

Drafted by the now-defunct Montreal Expos, Dawson burst on to the scene in the 1977 season, winning National League Rookie of the Year honours. He spent 10 years in Montreal, finishing as the runner-up for the Most Valuable Player award in two of those seasons.

In 1987 he signed for the Chicago Cubs, and in his first year with them enjoyed the best season of his career, slugging 49 home runs on the way to All Star, Gold Glove and MVP honours. He remained with the Cubs until 1992, being named to the NL All Star team on 4 more occasions, before finishing his career with short stints in Boston, and finally, Florida.

In an interview with the MLB Network, Dawson refused to be drawn on which team’s cap he would like to wear on his plaque in the Hall of Fame. If it were to be Montreal, he would become the second, and almost certainly the last, player to do so, after Gary Carter.

The big surprise of the day for everyone was the failure of 12-time All Star Roberto Alomar to be elected. Alomar appeared on the ballot for the first time this year, and most commentators expected him to be a shoe-in to be elected to the Hall at the first time of asking. He fell short of election by just eight votes, gaining 73.7% of eligible voters. Some feel Alomar was hurt by the 1996 incident where he spat at umpire John Hirschbeck. Although the two later publicly reconciled, the incident seemingly has not been forgotten by many. Alomar would seem a certainty to be elected to the Hall in 2011 at the second attempt.

It was also widely thought this would finally be the year that former pitcher Bert Blyleven would be elected. Widely considered as the best eligible, but not yet inducted, pitcher, Blyleven fell just five votes short of the 405 needed the reach 75%. First appearing on the ballot in 1998 he initially looked unlikely to ever be elected, however his support has grown steadily over the years, and, along with Alomar looks likely to be in the Class of 2011.

Other first-timers on the ballot Edgar Martinez and Barry Larkin both saw strong support, and stand a good shot at election in the coming years.
Finally, former Oakland and St Louis slugger Mark McGwire saw his share of the vote creep back up to 23.7%, after seeing falling support on last year’s ballot, representing his highest vote total so far in his four years of eligibility.

Based on his career numbers, McGwire would certainly be enshrined in Cooperstown already. However he was heavily involved in the performance-enhancing drugs scandal of the late 1990s onwards, and further tarnished his reputation with a bizarre appearance in front of a Congressional committee in 2005 where he refused to talk about the subject, and broke down in tears.

McGwire is an interesting test case in Hall of Fame voting, where the BBWAA voters will express their opinion on the subject of big stars known to have used PEDs. With a number of such big names, most notably home run king Barry Bonds, due to begin appearing on the ballot over the next few years, the debate is sure to heat up.

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