On his ninth try, Andre Dawson ascended Wednesday into baseball's Hall of Fame. Which cap Dawson's image bears on his plaque (it won't be the one above) is to be determined. Dawson reportedly prefers to be inducted wearing a Cubs cap, even though his career began in Montreal and he played more seasons with the Expos.
To sort out the issue, the Stew has invited both points of view to hash it out — right here, right now — before an official resolution is announced.
A Montreal View — Elias Makos
The Hall of Fame says it has not decided what cap will be on Andre Dawson's bronze plaque, but there really isn't much of a decision to make. Dawson's Expos legacy was longer and it began right away, when he won the Rookie of the Year award in 1977. The Hawk spent 11 seasons patrolling the rock-hard AstroTurf of Olympic Stadium and he won the Gold Glove in six consecutive seasons from 1980 to 1985.
Olympic Stadium might have been a balanced field between pitchers and hitters after the roof was put on, but Dawson spent his time in Montreal in a roofless Big O, where home runs fell as doubles and doubles became frozen outs. Pre-roof Olympic Stadium was one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in baseball, especially during the arctic Montreal months of April, May and September — and looking at Dawson's Montreal stats with that fact in mind makes his totals even more impressive.
Really, it's no wonder why his best offensive season came at Wrigley Field, one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the National League at a time when large cookie-cutter stadiums prevailed. Yes, Dawson won an MVP award with the last-place Cubs in 1987, but that simply isn't enough to tip any scales weighing this decision.
For the record, Dawson finished second in MVP voting twice for Nos Amours — in 1981 and 1983 — with winning Expos ballclubs. The Montreal squad of the late '70s and early '80s was one of the top teams of the era. It might be hard to imagine Montreal being regarded as one of baseball's premier franchises, playing to packed houses, but that was indeed the case when Andre Dawson made his mark in the major leagues.
Bad luck and and endless September doubleheaders kept the Expos from the World Series championship needed to confirm that dominance. With the Expos now gone, the Hall of Fame has the duty to preserve and honor baseball's history in Montreal. Enshrining Andre Dawson with anything other than an Expos logo on his cap would be a complete failure of that duty.
Elias Makos was the Expos' media relations coordinator from 2002 to 2004 and is currently the technology and trends columnist for CTV in Montreal. Keep up with les Expos on Twitter.
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A Chicago View — David Brown
Considering all of the criteria used by voters as reason to elect Andre Dawson to the Hall of Fame, his MVP award in 1987 is probably at the top of the list.
Over his 20 seasons, Dawson hit 438 homers, had nearly 2,800 hits and stole 314 bases. But he doesn’t pass into Cooperstown without the MVP. And it came when Dawson played for the Cubs.
That's among the reasons why Dawson's Hall of Fame plaque should bear the image of the Hawk wearing a Cubs cap. After all, it's the cap by which Dawson became famous.
Dawson was far from unknown with the Expos. He won the NL Rookie of the Year with them and led them to the playoffs once. It's justifiable to want Dawson to wear an Expos cap in the Hall. Some also would tell you it's justice.
The Montreal Expos cease to exist, a regrettable fact for Major League Baseball, no matter what successes might be ahead for the Washington Nationals. The departure is especially sad for Expos fans, a loyal and spirited band that was just a little too bijou to sustain a team in Quebec for longer than 36 seasons, the last being 2004.
It's arguable the major leagues should not have placed a team in Montreal in the first place, but it's also true that the Expos were taken unfairly and brutishly from Canada.
That's all unfortunate, but it doesn’t mean the Hall of Fame should be charitable with its caps. And it's not like zero Expos caps exist in the Hall; Gary Carter wears one on his plaque. It's sadly true that playing in Montreal all of those years delayed Carter's induction to Cooperstown. And Montreal might be the singular reason Tim Raines isn't in the Hall yet. If he played in St. Louis, Philly or — heavens — New York, the Rock would have been first ballot.
Montreal was a baseball wilderness for too many. That's why the Expos died and the Nationals were born. Dawson loved the fans up there, but he also couldn't wait to leave. In the days of owner collusion, when Dawson was a free agent, he gave the Cubs a blank check just so he could play home games at Wrigley Field.
That fact Dawson wants to wear a Cubs cap for eternity shouldn't be a the only consideration. Take Wade Boggs and his alleged wish to be inducted as a Devil Ray. Out of order. This is not that.
Dawson was a great player with the Expos, but he became a Hall of Famer with the Cubs.
David Brown grew up in Chicago and contributes to Big League Stew. Tell him hello on the Twitter.