Andre Dawson spent most of his career with the team that drafted him in the then-Montreal Expos. He was named the National League Rookie of the Year in 1977, slashing .282/.326/.474 with 19 home runs and 65 RBI in 139 games.
After the 1986 season, Dawson wanted to play for a team that had natural grass. As an outfielder, I can imagine that would get annoying field and diving for batted balls on AstroTurf, which essentially feels like concrete. His story of how he arrived in a Cubs uniform is one of the most unique I have ever heard.
Dawson reportedly wanted to play for the Cubs, but they already had a right fielder in Brian Dayett. He showed up at Cubs spring training camp with his agent and a blank check and ended up receiving a $500,000 contract with incentives. Well, you could say that ended up working out well because Dawson was named the National League’s Most Valuable Player in 1987.
That year, he slashed .287/.328/.568 with 24 doubles, 49 home runs and 137 RBI, with his home run and RBI totals being tops in the National League. The Cubs finished in dead last in the old National League East that season, but his numbers were just too good to ignore.
Dawson made the National League’s All-Star Team in five of his six seasons with the Cubs. He slashed .285/.327/.507 with 149 doubles, 27 triples, 174 home runs and 587 RBI during his tenure on the North Side.
He went onto play for the Boston Red Sox and the then-Florida Marlins before calling it a career. Dawson will undoubtedly go down as one of the best free-agent signings in Cubs franchise history.
He was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010. His No. 10 jersey was retired by the Expos.