At the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown on Sunday, Andre Dawson, at long last, took the podium. His speech, as expected and deserved, was the longest of the afternoon.
He addressed the game's issue with performance-enhancing drugs without explicitly mentioning it, saying:
"Nothing wrong with the game of baseball. Mistakes have hurt the game and taken a toll on all of us. Individuals have chosen the wrong road, and have chosen their legacy... Do not be lured by the dark side. It's a stain on the game. A stain gradually being removed. But that's the people, not the game. Nothing wrong with the game. There never has been."
As is par for the course, he made a few jabs. He recalled that Tommy Lasorda taught him how to get a free meal -- "eat half your steak, then send it back and complain and get a whole new free one" -- and said it was strange that the Hall would allow a manager and umpire (fellow inductees Whitey Herzog and Doug Harvey) sit next to one another.
Perhaps the most interesting thing to take away from his speech is that he spent far more time speaking about his time with the Cubs than he did on his years with the Expos, despie the fact that his plaque features him wearing an Expos cap. He thanked Cubs fans multiple times without acknowledging Expos fans once. He also said that he found out what it was like to be loved by a city when he came to Chicago.
Dawson spoke highly of Pete Rose, who, of course, is barred from the Hall of Fame, though he didn't lobby for his induction. He did, however, lobby for former teammates Lee Smith and Tim Raines.
Toward the end, Dawson choked up while thanking his mother, who passed away four years ago.
And finally, as a personal note, I was pleased to see Andre Dawson, a man I will forever associate with the year 1987, wear the most 1987 tie possible.