Dawson's leadership scores extra

July, 26, 2010
7/26/10
12:38
PM ET
Well, we know one guy who voted for Andre Dawson:

There could not be a more deserving representative for the Hall and for Montreal than Dawson. I worked with the man as a rookie and then for the first 11 years of his career and it should say all that needs to be said that I gave my youngest son the middle name, Andre, after Dawson. I was hoping that when Patrick grew up the name would inspire him to show the same attributes of character, strength and leadership that I had seen from the now 56-year-old Dawson during his playing career.

--snip--

There are still many in the baseball blogosphere that insist Dawson does not have the statistical credentials to deserve enshrinement at Cooperstown, but the measure of a man can be found in more than just on-base percentage and World Series rings. It can also be found in the opinions of his peers.

---snip--

And if Raines does get voted in eventually, he will owe a debt of gratitude to “The Hawk.” After Raines’ struggles with cocaine in 1982, it was Dawson that took charge of his younger teammate and made sure that he stayed on the right track to the point where Raines now sits poised with Hall of Fame numbers for batting and stealing bases and would be a worthy choice.

Raines’ second son was born on Dawson’s birthday, July 10, and is named Andre. Clearly, the true measure of a man can be found in more than just numbers.

You think I'm going to tear into Richard Griffin here, don't you?

I'm not.

Everything counts. I've gotten pretty sick of hearing about Dawson's bad knees, because if we give pitchers extra credit for sore arms they'll have to open up a huge new wing of the Hall of Fame in the next town over. Griffin believes that Dawson's willingness to play on those bad knees was inspirational for his teammates. Granted, this didn't lead to a great deal of team success; Dawson played until he was 41, but after his 27th birthday his teams played exactly five postseason games. But maybe, just maybe, his inspirational knees were worth an extra half-win per season. That would matter.

Similarly, if Dawson really played a significant role in Tim Raines getting his life back on track, that would matter, too. It's a tough argument, though. Raines was a great player before he got addicted to cocaine. Raines was a good player while he was addicted to cocaine. Raines was a great player after he was addicted to cocaine. There are players in the Hall of Fame, right now, who were addicted to cocaine (and there are a lot more players in the Hall of Fame who were addicted to alcohol). Did all of those players have an Andre Dawson-like figure in their lives, leading them back to the Promised Land?

I don't know. I also don't know how many great players didn't recover as Raines did. (Interesting to study, though. Just as we might estimate how many outstanding baseball players were lost to World War II, we might also estimate how many outstanding baseball players lost to the cocaine epidemic in the late 1970s and early '80s.)

I wasn't there for any of this. Richard Griffin was. Dawson's obviously a marginal Hall of Famer, a worse player than the average corner outfielder who's already in the Hall. Not a lot worse, though. We all draw our lines in different places, but there's not enough inspirational leadership on the planet to push Dawson from marginal to no-brainer. There might be enough to push him from marginal-and-under-the-line to marginal-but-over-the-line, though.

I still wouldn't have voted for Andre Dawson. I still think the election process is seriously flawed, and that Dawson's presence lowers the standards just a little bit. Next time around, nobody's going to look at Andre Dawson's leadership or Jim Rice's Intimidation Factor; they're going to look at the numbers, which (let's at least be honest) aren't terribly impressive.

I'll say this too, though: After reading Griffin's piece, I feel just a little better about the Hall of Fame than I did before. I'll feel better when Raines is actually elected.

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