The National Baseball Hall of Fame is considering Andre Dawson’s request to change the cap on his Cooperstown plaque from the Montreal Expos to the Chicago Cubs. Dawson believes that Wrigley Field and the bright spotlight around the Cubs played a significant role in extending his legendary career.
The initial choice of the Expos logo was made without Dawson’s approval after the Baseball Writers’ Association of America voted for his induction as part of the Hall of Fame’s 2010 class. Dawson has recently sent a letter to Jane Forbes Clark, the leader of the Hall of Fame’s board of directors, requesting a review of his plaque’s design, as reported by the Chicago Tribune. Dawson sees this as an opportunity to correct a wrong that was done.
The Hall of Fame intends to have a conversation with Dawson once they receive his proposal and get the chance to fully understand what it entails, according to a Cooperstown official who spoke on Tuesday.
“My preference all along was as a Cub,” Dawson told Tribune columnist Paul Sullivan. “I had my reasons, and I think that should’ve been something we sat down and discussed. It’s hard for stuff to bother me, to a degree. But this has toyed with me over the years for the simple reason that I was approached with the (announcement) that was going to be released to the press that I was going to wear an Expos emblem. I didn’t agree with it at the time. But for me, getting into the Hall was the most important thing. Over time, I’ve thought about it more and came to the (conclusion) I should have had some say-so.”
Dawson, who was drafted by the Expos out of Florida A&M University in 1975, spent the first 11 seasons of his 21-year major-league career with Montreal. Dawson famously offered the Cubs a “blank contract” during spring training in 1987, telling the team to fill in his salary amidst a period of labor relations marked by collusion among Major League Baseball’s owners. This led to a successful season for Dawson, becoming the 1987 National League MVP.
That momentum carried into the next stage of Dawson’s career as an enormously popular figure in Wrigleyville. He performed at a high level for the Cubs into his late 30s, spent two seasons with the Boston Red Sox and kept playing for the Florida Marlins beyond his 42nd birthday.
Disagreements are part of what makes the Hall of Fame a more interesting institution. The debates over who should be in and who should be left out are part of the conversation around the baseball industry. Greg Maddux had no logo on the hat on his Cooperstown plaque because both the Cubs and Atlanta Braves were important to his legacy as one of the best pitchers ever.
Dawson isn’t conflicted anymore, and he won’t be worried about any remaining Expos fans out there. His comments to the Chicago Tribune seemed to surprise the Hall of Fame, which is preparing for announcements around its contemporary era committee and the Ford C. Frick Award that annually honors an outstanding baseball broadcaster.
“I realize there will probably be some backlash, but at this point I’m 70 years old,” Dawson told Sullivan. “Do you think I really care?”
(Photo: Liv Lyons / MLB Photos via Getty Images)