Cooperstown, N.Y. — Andre Dawson stared almost in awe as he watched a brief video biography of his playing career, brushing away tears as familiar faces spoke in admiration of the intense man most still call “Hawk.”
“When I think back, there are so many things that flash through my mind,” Dawson said. “How did I ever pull it off? I can only say, ‘Wow!’ “
Despite 12 knee surgeries, Dawson was an All-Star eight times and managed to become just one of three major-league players to hit 400 homers and steal more than 300 bases (Willie Mays and Barry Bonds are the others). For that and so much more, Dawson will be inducted today into the Baseball Hall of Fame, part of a class that also features former manager Whitey Herzog, umpire Doug Harvey, broadcaster Jon Miller and sports writer Bill Madden.
The ceremony also will honor a musician for the first time. Rock and Roll Hall of Famer John Fogerty will sing his classic song “Centerfield,” which he wrote 25 years ago and has been played at the start of induction Sunday for more than a decade.
Now 56, Dawson is the 203rd player elected to the Hall of Fame, making it on the ninth try.
Many wondered why it took so long.
An 11th-round draft pick by the Montreal Expos in 1975, Dawson quickly made it to the big club in September 1976. The following year, Dawson was tabbed by manager Dick Williams as the club’s starting center fielder and immediately excelled in his new role, hitting 19 homers, driving in 65 runs, and stealing 21 bases to capture National League Rookie of the Year honors.
In 1981, Dawson helped lead Montreal to the NL playoffs for the first time and batted .300 in a five-game victory over the Philadelphia Phillies in the division series. Dawson’s best chance at making the World Series was then halted by the Dodgers, who took the NLCS in five games.
Dawson will be inducted with a manager he admired from afar. Just the 19th major-league skipper to make the Hall, Herzog was elected by the Veterans Committee.
Born in New Athens, Ill., a town of about 1,400, Herzog gravitated toward baseball as a youngster — “It wasn’t big enough for a football team, there were only 49 boys in high school,” he said — and made his major-league debut as a player in 1956 with the Washington Senators.
In eight seasons as a first baseman and outfielder, Herzog batted .254 with 25 homers, 172 RBIs, 213 runs, 60 doubles, 20 triples, and 13 stolen bases in 634 games with Washington, Baltimore, Kansas City and Detroit.
After his playing career ended in 1963, Herzog held just about every job imaginable in baseball — player, scout, general manager, coach, farm system director.
It was as a manager that Herzog made his lasting mark. He did it for 18 seasons, 11 with the St. Louis Cardinals after stints in Texas, California and Kansas City. He guided the Royals to three consecutive playoff appearances in the 1970s and took the Cardinals to the 1982 World Series title — just two years after he was hired. The Cards also made World Series appearances in 1985 and 1987 under Herzog, who finished his managing career in 1990 with a record of 1,279-1,123, a .532 winning percentage.
Herzog’s teams played the game in a classic manner: “Whiteyball” won games with pitching, speed, and defense — not home runs.
A look at the honorees to be inducted Sunday into the Baseball Hall of Fame:
Andre Nolan Dawson
Born July 10, 1954, in Miami ... 6-foot-3, 195 pounds, batted right-handed and threw right-handed ... nicknamed “Hawk” for his fearlessness and intensity ... as a power-hitting outfielder batted .279 with 2,774 hits, 438 home runs and 1,591 RBIs in a major league career from 1976-96 ... played for four major league teams but spent most of his career with the Montreal Expos (1976-86) and Chicago Cubs (1987-92) ... named NL rookie of the year in 1977 after batting .282 with 19 homers and 65 RBIs ... won NL MVP in 1987, leading the league with 49 homers and 137 RBIs after being runner-up in 1981 and 1983 ... batted .300 five times, drove in 100 runs four times, and had 13 seasons of 20 or more home runs ... also stole 25 or more bases six times ... one of only three major leaguers to hit 400 homers and steal more than 300 bases (Willie Mays and Barry Bonds are the others) ... led the NL in outfield putouts from 1981-83 and won eight Gold Gloves ... eight-time All-Star ... elected in January on his ninth try.
Dorrel Norman Elvert “Whitey” Herzog
Born Nov. 9, 1931, in New Athens, Ill. ... a left-handed batter and thrower who played outfield and first base ... batted .254 in eight major league seasons with 25 homers, 172 RBIs, 213 runs, 60 doubles, 20 triples, and 13 stolen bases in 634 games with Washington, Baltimore, Kansas City, and Detroit ... served as a scout, manager, general manager and farm system director after his playing career ended in 1963. ... led the Kansas City Royals to three consecutive playoff appearances from 1976-78 and had six division winners. ... hired in 1980 to manage the St. Louis Cardinals ... won three pennants and led the Cardinals to the 1982 World Series title ... finished his managing career in 1990 with a 1,279-1,123 record for a .532 winning percentage ... the 19th manager to make the Hall, Herzog was elected in December by the Veterans Committee.
Harold Douglas Harvey
Born March 13, 1930, in South Gate, Calif. ... began officiating high school basketball games at 16 and later umpired softball and baseball ... attended San Diego State College in 1955-56, where he played baseball and football ... returned to officiating as an umpire in the minor leagues and also worked college basketball and football ... umpired in the California League from 1958-60 and in the Pacific Coast League in 1961 ... worked in the National League from 1962-92 ... one of the last major league umpires who didn’t attend umpiring school ... umpired 4,673 regular-season games during his major league career ... called five World Series, six All-Star Games and nine National League championship series ... ninth umpire to be inducted and the first living umpire inducted since Al Barlick in 1989.
Recipient of Ford C. Frick Award, presented annually for major contributions to baseball broadcasting ... born Oct. 11, 1951, in the San Francisco Bay Area ... worked as sports director for KFTY television in Santa Rosa ... spent parts of five decades as the voice of five major league teams ... in 1974 became play-by-play man for the Oakland A’s ... also broadcast hockey, soccer, and college and pro basketball before returning to baseball with the Texas Rangers’ radio crew in 1978 ... moved to Boston in 1980 to take the Red Sox radio job and three years later went to Baltimore to handle the Orioles’ radio duties ... worked NBC “Game of the Week” from 1986-89 with Frick Award winners Tony Kubek and Joe Garagiola ... lead broadcaster for “Sunday Night Baseball” telecasts for 20 years ... returned to San Francisco in 1997 to become the voice of the Giants ... has broadcast 13 World Series.
Recipient of J.G. Taylor Spink Award, presented annually for meritorious contributions to baseball writing ... born in 1946 and grew up in New Jersey ... graduated from Bergen Catholic High School ... majored in journalism at the University of South Carolina ... was a sports writer with UPI for nine years before joining the New York Daily News in 1978 ... was the New York Yankees’ beat writer for the paper from 1980-88 and became national baseball columnist in 1989 ... has written five books on baseball ... served as a member of the Hall of Fame Screening Committee for the annual BBWAA ballot and the Historical Overview Committee that formulates the Veterans Committee ballots.