Tuesday, Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune posted a column in which he wrote that Hall of Famer Andre Dawson wants the cap on his Hall of Fame plaque changed from an Expos cap to a Cubs cap.
Dawson’s reasoning, per Sullivan:
“I just felt my preference all along was as a Cub, despite playing (11) years in Montreal,” he said. “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 … I personally feel my mission, for the rest of my life going forward if that’s what it takes, is to right a wrong.”
For a better understanding of this, here’s a bit of the history behind why an Expos cap was chosen for Dawson in the first place, when he was inducted into the Hall in 2010.
There had been a bit of a scandal in 2001 when Wade Boggs signed with the Devil Rays and there were rumors he had asked for a contract clause to have a Devil Rays cap on his plaque if he was elected to the Hall of Fame. Boggs, whose best years were in Boston, played the last two years of his career in Tampa and batted .289/.360/.391, far below his previous career norms. He did get his 3,000th hit in a Devil Rays uniform.
In any case, when inducted in 2005, Boggs had a Red Sox cap on his plaque and after this incident, the Hall’s board said they would now make the decision for players.
In addition to the Boggs scandal, at the time there was just one player strongly identified with the Expos in the Hall (Gary Carter) and I think the Hall wanted another one, especially since between the time Carter was inducted (2003) and Dawson’s induction in 2010, the Expos had moved to Washington and became the Nationals.
Andre Dawson played 11 years in Montreal and batted .280/.326/.476 with 225 home runs and 253 stolen bases. In his six years as a Cub, he hit .285/.327/.507 with 174 home runs, though his speed was pretty much gone by then (only 57 steals). He posted 48.4 bWAR with the Expos, 18.8 with the Cubs, and won six Gold Gloves in Montreal as well as being named N.L. Rookie of the Year in 1977. Of course, he’s got that 1987 season with the Cubs, N.L. MVP, and he became a beloved figure in Cubs history for his six seasons in Chicago.
Why is this so important to him now?
Dawson felt his signing in Chicago changed everything about how he was perceived as a player.
“It was an eye-opening experience for me,” he said. “The adoration of the fan base, the welcoming from the city itself and the joy of being able to experience that feeling in the second half of my career. … I was one of the more popular players in Montreal, but I wouldn’t consider myself an organizational icon or the most popular.
“That didn’t affect me because I was there to do a job, and I tried to do it to the best of my ability. When push came to shove and I became a free agent, I think it was handled poorly and in a sense I was really forced out. The change of scenery in Chicago rejuvenated me because of how warmly I was received.”
Sullivan’s article concludes:
He knows that the chances are slim of getting the Hall to budge on this — altering plaques has been extremely rare over the years — and that some, including Expos fans, might criticize him for wanting to switch.
“I realize there will probably be some backlash, but at this point I’m 70 years old,” he said with a laugh. “Do you think I really care?”
Andre Dawson has always been awesome, but you have to admire his honesty here.
And despite Sullivan writing the “chances are slim,” an article posted late Tuesday by Patrick Mooney at The Athletic indicates that the Hall, in fact, appears to be willing to listen to Dawson:
Dawson recently sent a letter to Jane Forbes Clark, the leader of the Hall of Fame’s board of directors, asking for a review of his plaque’s design, according to the Chicago Tribune. Dawson called it an opportunity to “right a wrong.”
The Hall of Fame intends to talk with Dawson once the organization actually receives his proposal, a Cooperstown official said Tuesday, and gets the chance to fully see what it entails.
Good for the Hall of Fame. In recent years the Hall has softened its stance on the plaques for inductees. They still make the decision, but not unilaterally. Instead, they consult with the player on his choice and desire before making the decision. Recent inductees Tony La Russa (2014), Greg Maddux (2014) and Fred McGriff (2023) have all been inducted with plaques that have blank caps, none of them wanting to choose one of their teams over another.
I hope the Hall grants Dawson’s wish and re-makes his plaque with a Cubs cap on it, since that is his desire. Again, while Dawson had his best years in Montreal, his biggest fame probably stems from his years as a Cub, and, well, “fame” should be a pretty big part of anyone who’s in the Hall of FAME, no?
All of this raises a question. Every Cubs player who’s been inducted into the Hall since 1977 (Ernie Banks) has eventually had his number retired by the team. If the Hall does change Dawson’s plaque, should they then retire his No. 8, currently being worn by Ian Happ?
Regarding Dawson’s Cubs No. 8 — he wore No. 10 in Montreal, but at the time he signed with the Cubs, Leon Durham had that number — did you know he was briefly assigned a different number when he first signed with the Cubs? Here’s the story I wrote about that here in 2020, along with photographic proof.
If the Hall of Fame changes Andre Dawson’s plaque to show a Cubs cap, should the Cubs retire his No. 8?
This poll is closed