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From 2006 until October 2017, Hall of Famer Andre Dawson worked for the Miami Marlins. He served as special assistant to then-president David Samson, and was an ever-present resource for players and coaches at spring training and home games. When the Marlins were sold in October, Samson was fired, which meant that Dawson’s job no longer existed. So how has he been filling the time he’s no longer spending with the Marlins?
He runs a funeral home.
Wait, Andre Dawson does what now?
No, that wasn’t a typo or a really belated April Fool’s joke. Bob Nightengale of USA Today sat down with Dawson to talk about his post-Marlins life, and he revealed that he runs a funeral home with his wife of 40 years, Vanessa. They’ve owned Paradise Memorial Funeral Home in Richmond Heights, Florida for 10 years.
It’s a serious venture, even though a few of Dawson’s friends (who also happen to be former baseball players) can’t quite believe he’s doing it.
“Rickey Henderson just looked at me,’’ Dawson says, “with his eyes wide open.
“Jim Rice said, ‘You do what? WHAT?’ And then all of the questions began to flow.
“Rice thinks it’s comical because he always thought I was grumpy and moody when I played.’’
Dawson is heavily involved in the day-to-day business
Dawson describes himself as a perfectionist, and that means he does whatever is required to run his business right. He takes on all sorts of tasks, like scrubbing sinks and toilets, mopping floors, driving limos and hearses, and carrying caskets. He even consoles mourning families, and has learned when is the right time for him to reach out and comfort, or to just sit and listen as people grieve.
Dawson is also very proud of having a thriving business in his hometown, and one that serves the community.
“I could have called it the Andre Dawson Funeral Home, and not really been a part of it, but that’s not me. I want something this community can turn to. I want them to be proud.’’
Most don’t recognize him, but some do
Vanessa told USA Today that 75% of the families that use the funeral home don’t know that a Hall of Fame baseball player is involved. But some do, of course. And when they realize who they’re talking to, there can be smiles through the tears. Dawson told Nightengale a story about being recognized by the son of a man who had recently died. Dawson was at the family home to pick up the body.
The man couldn’t believe it. Andre Dawson, the Hall of Famer who was only the second player in baseball history to hit 400 homers and steal 300 bases, was about to carry out his dead father?
The man tells Dawson that he got a picture taken of him when he was 7 years old. He scurries to the back of his home, looks through his bookshelves, and finds the scrapbook. He proudly shows Dawson, who was wearing a Florida Marlins uniform, to let him know he wasn’t making it up.
“Well,’’ he said, “I guess this is what it took for me to finally get a chance to meet you.’’
Dawson admits that it’s more than a little weird for a former baseball player and Hall of Famer to be running a funeral home, but the work has grown on him. He told USA Today that “I believe I’m right where I belong.”
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