Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

`The Hawk' Soared His Highest with Chicago

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

`The Hawk' Soared His Highest with Chicago

Article excerpt

Of all the ballplayers I have seen, only two, so far as I could tell, were held in awe by their teammates: Mickey Mantle and Andre Dawson.

And it wasn't only because they hit home runs and were superb in the field. The principal reason their teammates regarded them so highly was because they played in pain. And never complained.

Dawson, who had a glorious six-year career with the Cubs, announced his retirement last week, was at Wrigley Field Monday night - his last hurrah. He has finished his career with the Florida Marlins after being used sparingly: 40 at-bats, a .300 average, with only one home run. As expected, he was engulfed by reporters.

The Cubs were in the midst of batting practice and manager Jim Riggleman, watching from a distance, offered the best summation:

"When you see how his teammates feel about him, the other team starts looking at this guy, and they're thinking, `He must be something special to command so much respect.' This feeling transcends into the other dugout. And the next thing you know both teams idolize the guy."

Like Mantle, Dawson should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer: 21 major-league seasons; 437 home runs; 1,587 runs batted in; 314 stolen bases. The numbers are staggering. Few players have possessed this uncom mon combination of speed and power.

Don Zimmer, the former Cubs manager, was among the first to express the Mantle and Dawson similarities.

"We'll never know how good Mickey Mantle would have been because he played on bad knees," Zimmer said. "In my time, Andre Dawson was Mickey Mantle. If Andre hadn't had all those knee operations he would have 600 home runs and 500 stolen bases."

"The Hawk" underwent his 12th knee operation last May. He's had seven on the right knee, five on the left.

"I took them as far as they let me go," Dawson said Monday. "With better knees I could have played three or four more years. But I was lucky to play as long as did."

Rusty Kuntz, one of the Florida coaches, said, "I told `Hawk' the other day I would be glad to give him my knees. It's a big loss."

Dawson revealed that he initially decided that if and when he was elected to the Hall of Fame his plaque would show him in the cap of the last team for which he played. …

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