Friend of the Game
By Craig Muder
NEW YORK — Andre Dawson never knew he had so many friends. But after becoming the newest member of the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday, Dawson’s cell phone never stopped ringing.
“I’ve had 90 text messages and 60 voice messages,” Dawson said. “I don’t think I know that many people.”
But people know Andre Dawson. And now they know him by his new title: Hall of Famer.
Dawson arrived in New York City on Wednesday night after learning earlier in the day that he had become the 292nd member of the Hall of Fame. On his ninth try on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot, Dawson crossed the magic 75-percent level necessary for Hall of Fame induction.
He’ll be enshrined July 25 in Cooperstown with Veterans Committee electees Doug Harvey and Whitey Herzog.
The 55-year-old Dawson is fit and trim — and looks like he could still mash a few balls over the fence. But the knee problems that dogged him during his playing career would make any comeback impossible.
“I got stopped in the airport, as usual, because of this knee,” said Dawson, patting the right leg that contains an artificial joint made of metal. “They won’t let me through security.”
Dawson, however, was more than happy to endure the wait in the airport. The smiles came easy on Wednesday for the eight-time All-Star outfielder — one of baseball’s most outstanding citizens — as he recalled the career path that brought him to the Hall of Fame.
In a little more than six months, that path will land Dawson on stage in the Village of Cooperstown — and once again, he’ll be recalling his career. Only this time, thousands of fans will be cheering.
One last ovation for a player who has as many friends as he does fans.
Craig Muder is director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.