Andre Dawson finally received the call he’s been waiting nine years for. However, he won’t be celebrating by going to Disneyworld. Instead, he’ll be going to Cooperstown as the newest member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
In one of the closest votes in Hall of Fame history, Dawson was named on 77.9% of the 539 ballots cast by the members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. His 420 votes were fifteen more than the 405 needed to gain election into the Hall. Dawson was the only player voted in by the BBWAA, as Bert Blyleven and former Met Roberto Alomar fell just short of baseball immortality.
Blyleven’s name was on 74.2% of the ballots (400 votes; five short of election) and Alomar was named on 73.7% of the ballots (397 votes; eight short of election). No player receiving at least 70% of the vote has ever failed to eventually be elected into the Hall of Fame.
Dawson played 17 of his 21 seasons in the major leagues for the Montreal Expos and the Chicago Cubs, winning the 1977 NL Rookie of The Year Award for the Expos and the 1987 NL MVP Award for the Cubs. He was a five-tool player who combined power, speed and a cannon for an arm. Opposing pitchers feared him as did opposing baserunners, at least those who were smart enough not to try to take an extra base on him. For his defensive excellence, Dawson earned eight Gold Glove Awards. Offensively, very few hitters could compare to Dawson’s power-speed combination. Only three players in baseball history have hit 400 HR while racking up 300 SB. Those players are Barry Bonds (762 HR, 514 SB), Willie Mays (660 HR, 338 SB) and Andre Dawson (438 HR, 314 SB).
Perhaps the most well-known story about the Hawk, as Dawson was called, was how he gave Cubs GM (and former Mets manager) Dallas Green a blank contract so that he could play for the Cubs on natural grass after the artificial turf in Montreal had played havoc with his knees. In 1987, while playing for only $500,000, Dawson had the best season of his career, leading the league with 49 HR and 137 RBI for the Cubs. He won the MVP Award despite the fact that the Cubs finished in last place.
Numerous former Mets were also on the Hall of Fame ballot, led by the near-miss of Roberto Alomar. Robbie was quite possibly the best second baseman of his generation. He won ten Gold Gloves for his defensive excellence and was a 12-time All-Star. Alomar retired at the relatively young age of 36, preventing him from reaching the coveted 3,000 hit plateau. (He finished with 2,724.) Other offensive highlights include a career .300 batting average, 1,508 runs scored, 210 HR and 474 SB. He also helped his teams make the postseason seven times, winning two World Series rings with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1992 and 1993.
Unfortunately for the Mets and their fans, Alomar’s last good season was as a member of the Cleveland Indians in 2001, the year BEFORE he became a Met. In his 1½ seasons in New York, Robbie only hit .265 with 13 HR and 22 SB, far below the offensive output expected of him. His Gold Glove streak also ended once he came to the Mets, as did his streak of appearing in a dozen consecutive All-Star Games.
Four other former Mets were on the ballot, including Robin Ventura and Todd Zeile. The others were the mostly-forgotten Kevin Appier and David Segui. None of the four players received the minimum 5% of the votes required to remain on the Hall of Fame ballot for future consideration. Ventura and Zeile, both members of the 2000 National League Champion Mets received seven votes and no votes, respectively. Appier and Segui somehow each managed to get one voter to feel sorry for them.
Next year, two former Mets will make their first appearance on the Hall of Fame ballot, as John Franco and John Olerud will be eligible for enshrinement. Other first-timers with the best chances for election include Jeff Bagwell, Rafael Palmeiro, Larry Walker and Juan Gonzalez. It will be interesting to see how Palmeiro does with the voters, considering that he tested positive after adamantly saying before Congress that he had never taken steroids…period. However, he is one of the few players in baseball history with 3,000 hits and 500 HR.
So how do the readers feel about this year’s Hall of Fame vote? Were you surprised that Alomar didn’t get elected on his first try? Did you think Edgar Martinez (.312 career average, two batting titles, over 500 doubles, over 300 HR) was slighted because he was primarily used as a DH? What about Barry Larkin? Should he have gotten more attention from the voters? Would you like to give the writer who voted for David Segui a drug test? Who do you think will be elected in 2011? The floor is all yours. Talk amongst yourselves!