It’s been four years since the Baseball Writers Association of America elected former Chicago Cub Andre Dawson to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Yet the Cubs have not yet honored The Hawk by retiring his #8. According to an ESPNChicago.com article from Jan. 10, 2010, the team would retire his number if he were to go into the Hall of Fame wearing a Cubs hat instead of a Montreal Expos hat. However, the Hall decided he would don a Montreal hat, despite Dawson wishing to have a Cubs hat on his plaque, according to a Jan. 27, 2010 story from MLB.com. As a result, the Cubs have not yet retired his number.
Andre Dawson (Photo Credit: John Swart/AP)
There doesn’t seem to be much logic in all of this. For one, in 2009, the Cubs co-retired the #31 in honor of Ferguson Jenkins and Greg Maddux, despite the fact the latter is most certainly going to be wearing an Atlanta Braves hat on his plaque. So if the Cubs could co-retire Maddux’s number if he won’t be donning a Cubs cap in the Hall of Fame, then why can’t the same be said for Dawson? Second, it is up to the Hall of Fame and not those elected as to which cap they’ll be wearing, should there be a logo on the cap in the first place. Dawson didn’t get a pick. It was out of his hands. The Hall of Fame considers the wishes of one who is elected, but they get the final say. To not honor Dawson for something that was out of his control doesn’t seem fair at all.
In Dawson’s first season with the Cubs in 1987, he won the NL MVP on a last place team. He put up monster numbers of 47 home runs and 137 RBI. It can be argued that without winning that MVP award in Chicago, Dawson would not have been enshrined in Cooperstown. He was one of those cases in which things could’ve gone either way. It wouldn’t have been egregious to have him enter the Hall of Fame as a Cub whereas it would be so if Maddux were to be depicted wearing a San Diego Padres hat on his plaque. However, there is no denying he did make his mark with the Expos and it wasn’t a bad decisions at all.
Whichever cap someone wears on their plaque, if such a player is worthy of having his uniform number retired by another team, then let it be. For the Cubs to hold out on Dawson for that very reason when he is otherwise worthy does not make sense. What necessarily makes Greg Maddux’s first Cy Young with the Cubs back in 1992 more memorable than what Dawson did in 1987 with the Cubs after signing a blank contract, no less? It may be because Maddux spent more time with the North Siders than Dawson did, but by that, shouldn’t the team have just retired #31 for Jenkins and not for Maddux as well? That’s not to say Maddux wasn’t deserving of the honor, he was, but there ought to be a consistency when it comes to this. Hopefully, one day, Andre Dawson’s #8 flag will fly on the foul pole at Wrigley Field along with the other numbers.