FAMU's Dawson joins Herzog and Harvey in MLB Hall of Fame
July 25, 2010
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- The Hawk, the Rat and the Lord all took their places in the National Baseball Hall of Fame behind the Clark Sports Center on a rare grey and rainy induction Sunday.
Andre Dawson, Whitey Herzog and Doug Harvey were this year's inductees, raising the total of plaques in the Hall of Fame to 292. That number includes nine umpires, 19 managers and 203 players. Forty-seven previously elected members were on the stage for the 68th Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
Midway through the three-hour event, and just as Harvey's pre-recorded acceptance speech began on a giant video screen, the heaviest rain suddenly ended and the weather was just fine, as the sun played hide and seek with storm clouds for the remainder of the afternoon.
"See, I stopped the rain," Harvey, nicknamed "God" by the late baseball writer and historian Jerome Holtzman, only half-kiddingly told the soaked crowd of about 10,000.
Earlier on Sunday morning, the former National League umpire had predicted he would hold off the showers, which pelted this small hamlet on the banks of Otsego Lake all weekend. But even he couldn't completely stop the gentle rain that began falling just after John Fogerty played his epic baseball song, "Center Field."
"The Hawk," this year's sole player elected by the Baseball Writers' Association of America, and a 21-year veteran, went into the hallowed Hall wearing the tri-colored logo of the Montreal Expos. Herzog was a manager of four teams, and Harvey umpired 4,673 games in the big leagues, 18 as a crew chief, from 1962-92, including numerous playoff, World Series and All-Star games. Herzog and Harvey were elected last year by separate veterans committees.
"I didn't play this game with this goal in my mind," Dawson said about getting into the Hall. "But I'm living proof that if you love this game, the game will love you back. I'm proof that any young person who can hear my voice right now can be standing here as I am."
Dawson, who was nicknamed "The Hawk" by an uncle as a nine-year-old, had 438 homers, 1,591 RBIs and 314 stolen bases, but was never a member of a team that went to the World Series. He only appeared in the playoffs twice: for the Expos squad that lost the 1981 National League Championship Series to the Dodgers in five games, and the 1989 Cubs, who lost the NLCS to the Giants in five games.
Born and raised in Miami, Dawson finished his career with the Marlins in 1996, but he missed their first World Series championship by a year. Dawson is currently an executive assistant in the Florida organization.
An outfielder with speed and power, the 56-year-old Dawson played his entire career on an injured left knee and thanked all the trainers, physicians and physical therapists, "who kept me in one piece."
He made it into the Hall on his ninth try, earning 77.9 percent of the vote, as revealed in January. His name was included on 420 of the 539 ballots. Last year, when Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice went in, Dawson missed the cut with 67 percent of the vote. Seventy-five percent is required for election.
Dawson wanted to have the Cubs insignia on his Hall of Fame plaque, but was overruled by the officials from the Hall, who made him the second player to go in as an Expo, behind catcher Gary Carter, who was elected by the BBWAA in 2003.
But in the end it hardly mattered. Dawson's No. 10 is slated to be retired by the Nationals -- the former Expos franchise -- on Aug. 10 in Washington.
"Thank you to the Montreal organization for drafting me and giving me my start," Dawson said. "You gave me my first 10 years in the Major Leagues, experiences of a new culture and playing across the border. Thank you Expos fans for your kindness and your admiration.
"And from my heart, thank you Cubs fans. You were a true a blessing in my life. 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."
Dawson becomes the second player from an HBCU to be inducted. He joins St. Louis Cardinals’ star outfielder Lou Brock (1961-79), a Southern University graduate, who was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 1985.
Brock, a native of El Dorado, Arkansas, helped lead the Southern Jaguars to the 1959 NAIA National title, before being drafted by the Chicago Cubs.
The Cubs traded Brock in one of the top all-time one-sided trades in baseball history, to the Cardinals, whom he helped lead to three World Series (1964, 1967 and 1968), winning in 1964 and 1967.
Brock, who played left field for St. Louis, finished his career with 938 stolen bases, second all-time to Rickey Henderson (1,406), while hitting .293 with 149 home runs, 900 runs batted in and 1,610 runs scored.
Overall, HBCUs have produced 51 past and present major league players.
Barry M. Bloom, national reporter for MLB.com and Alvin Hollins, Jr., former sports information director at Florida A&M, conributed to this article