Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Please, Don't Retire His Jersey Number
If Our Washington Nationals want to honor Andre Dawson on August 12th at Nationals Park for his recent induction into The National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum, fine. But we don't want to see his Montreal Expos Jersey Number 10 retired forever on South Capitol Street. And that holds true for Gary Carter's Number 8 and Tim Raines' Number 30.
Andre Dawson never played a single regular season game in Washington, D.C. He last played for The Expos 19 years before Major League Baseball relocated the franchise to Washington. D.C. The first eleven years of Andre's Big League career took place in a home stadium north of the American border. As great as he was, Dawson clearly has no ties to The District of Columbia. And in fact, during his Hall Of Fame Induction speech last Sunday, Andre went out of his way to glance over the very city, the very team and very franchise that drafted him, developed him, and gave him every opportunity to start his wonderful Big League Career.
That's Montreal, in Quebec, in the country of Canada.
With a hundred or so diehard to this day Expos Fans on hand in Cooperstown, New York to possibly witness the very last player in Montreal's 36 year Major League history to be enshrined in The Hall Of Fame, Andre Dawson profusely thanked the city of Chicago, The Cubs organization, their fans and Wrigley Field for his six years playing on The North Side. Some of his family members wore Chicago Cubs attire too. No one glorified The Expos.
Dawson individually thanked former Montreal teammates Gary Carter, Tim Raines, Ellis Valentine and Warren Cromartie in his speech, but he didn't single out the city and franchise that gave him his stardom in the game--or their fans either--Montreal. Dawson lumped his final four years of Major League baseball playing for The Florida Marlins and The Boston Red Sox as being just as important as his nearly one dozen years in an Expos uniform. That's telling, especially after Andre Dawson fought The Baseball Hall Of Fame and Museum over being inducted into Cooperstown as a Montreal Expo--only the second player to be so honored (Gary Carter the first).
On August 12th, Our Washington Nationals are going to show respect to Andre Dawson for a great Major League Career and the ultimate honor in baseball, and that's fine. But please, don't retire his jersey number and hang it from the rafters at Nationals Park because at possibly his greatest moment in the game, being immortalized into Cooperstown, Andre Dawson showed little respect for the franchise (The Expos) and the city (Montreal) which launched his Hall Of Fame career.
Years ago, Andre Dawson cut ties with the Montreal/Washington Franchise and he's never looked back at that decision--even after being inducted into The Baseball Hall Of Fame & Museum.
And that's a shame.
P.S. The Minnesota Twins have never retired a single jersey number of an Original Washington Senators player. They don't even recognize Walter Johnson on their mlb.com Hall Of Fame players list. The Texas Rangers have worn Expansion Senators retro jerseys in the past, but they've never honored Frank Howard. The Baltimore Orioles don't usually recognize The St. Louis Browns, but they fully acknowledge that Hall of Famer John McGraw was their manager in 1901 and 1902. The very team that is now The New York Yankees. The history should remain with the city in which it was made--not in some far away land where the fans have little or no recollection of the facts. That's why there are groups like The Philadelphia Athletics Historical Society and The Baseball Hall Of Fame & Museum--so the past will never be forgotten.
Photo Credit--Jim McIsaac (Getty Images)