On the day before his Hall of Fame induction, I sat down with Andre Dawson. Here's what the Hawk had to say.
Bruce Levine: Hawk, pretty amazing. One day away and here we are.
Andre Dawson: Yeah. It’s been quite the build up. I have a lot of family here that is excited about the ceremony itself. And, like you said, it’s vastly approaching.
BL: Do you sense a different feeling on what you’ve heard since they called and told you you were in?
AD: I’m amazed. Surprised I guess that I haven’t gotten a bit nervous about it. That’s probably going to change, I should say. Maybe change tomorrow once the full impact starts to take effect. Once I step on that stage. It’s been quite the ride. I’ve been a lot of places and it’s been overwhelming. I was told at the outset: saddle up and enjoy the ride. And it’s pretty much been all of that.
BL: The people here treat you like a king. They’ve done that since they started with the Hall of Famers here. Can you tell me what the exp is like? How they treat you. How they organize you. How they try to keep you away from interviews like this.
AD: They are very specific here, to the point [they] try and make it as comfortable as possible. [They are] as hospitable as you can imagine. It is very first-class run.
BL: When you reflect back on your career as this process has been going on, do some of those games stand out or is it more teammates and experiences with them? What goes through your mind?
AD: Relationships over the years, more so then particular games. Comradery and the fact that you meet new friends all the time. It’s a fraternity unlike any -- maybe with the exception of here in the Hall of Fame. That’s what you miss most. You don’t really miss the game – especially when you played it as long as I did. It’s just the individuals that come into your life and you develop those relationships over the years.
BL: You and I have talked about getting in, it’s a difficult process. Are you proud of the fact that your numbers are the real numbers and they really mean something now that all this drug stuff is cleared up in Major League Baseball?
AD: I never really had any concern out about the numbers. I think longevity is the key if you play long enough and are consist, all that stuff, in the end, evens out. The criteria seems to matter and differ depending on what year it is. It’s a process where you gotta wait it out and be patient. And the one thing you won’t ever here is a negative comment about individuals that are in the Hall of Fame. Each member has a different story in itself. For me, that’s what’s most important. The writers really hold the hall sacred, and not just anyone is going to get in.
BL: How have you dealt with people in Chicago who are your real fans? Montreal fans certainly were. The idea that you played all your years in Montreal, you’re going in as an Expo, but you’re heart is in Chicago.
AD: Well, I think, one, I don’t want to say last time, I get to acknowledge that tomorrow up on that stage. I think the fans know the impact they had on me. What they meant to me. They’ll always be No. 1 in my heart, and at least now, I get the opportunity to share that nationally.
BL: You’ve always been a great player, but when you’re around these Hall of Famers now is there a certain new feeling you get knowing that you’re one of them?
AD: It’s a bunch of good guys. You know, they make it real relaxing comfortable for you. I sit back and I like to listen to some of the stories. It’s funny, last night, Frank Robinson told me ‘you’re not a Hall of Famer yet. Sunday, during the dinner we’ll initiate you. Then you’re on probation for a year.’ So it’s a good bunch of guys. And I’m very excited about the prospect of joining them in this elite group.
BL: Your speech, you nervous about it?
AD: I can’t say that I’m nervous. I’m prepared, I think and maybe that’s put a lot of ease on that process. You never know, Bruce, when you get on that stage how your emotions are going to react. I’m going to struggle I think at the end, but hopefully I will have enough adrenaline to get through it.
BL: Your buddy Ryne Sandberg is here. He’s doing a lot of special things are you happy he’s here for you? You were here for him five years ago.
AD: Well, when I first saw him, the first thing that came to my mind, I addressed him as skipper. Yeah, I’m happy that Ryne was able to come out. He invited me to his induction ceremony and gave me a huge endorsement. Always one of my favorites over the years as a teammate.
BL: Final message to your fans in Chicago who won’t be here?
AD: Sorry that you couldn’t get down. It’s a very, very exciting and important time in my life. You made a huge impact on my career and I really appreciate it.