Dawson rolls to '77 NL Rookie of the Year Award

Written by: Arielle Gordon

After earning the Expos’ everyday center field job in June 1977, Andre Dawson was well on his way to a standout rookie campaign.

In 139 games, Dawson hit .282 with 148 hits, 64 runs scored and 65 RBI. He totaled 54 extra-base hits, including a team-leading nine triples.

He was rewarded by being named National League Rookie of the Year on Nov. 22, 1977.

Dawson was drafted in the 11th round (250th overall pick) by the Expos in 1975. He played 186 minor league games before making his major league debut on Sept. 11, 1976. In 24 games at the end of the 1976 season, Dawson played each outfield position and collected 20 hits.

After a taste of the majors, Dawson set some goals for himself for 1977 and beyond.

“I set quite a few goals at the beginning of the season and came very close to most of them and went over a few,” Dawson told United Press International. “At the beginning of the season, things looked shaky, but I did reach most of the goals I set. … I can eventually hit 30 home runs and well over .300 – I’m not saying I will do it next year, but my goals will be around that area.”

Dawson hit 19 homers in 1977 and would post three 30+ home run seasons in his career, including a league-leading 49 in 1987. He also hit over .300 five times, reaching a career high .310 in 1990.

He put his speed to use on the basepaths, swiping 21 bags with only seven failed attempts in 1977. Following a successful steal of home – one that seemed to catch just about everyone in the stadium off-guard – against the Cardinals in August, the Montreal Gazette was already penciling Dawson’s name down for Rookie of the Year with the headline: “Dawson just may steal rookie award” and the Montreal Star referred him as “Awesome Dawson” in their summary of his exploits.

“The thing that impresses you the most about Andre is the fashion in which he applies himself,” Expos manager Dick Williams told the Gazette. “He is always working hard at improving and using the talents that he owns.”

Dawson posted a .989 fielding percentage in center field and was third on the team with a 3.9 WAR. Playing with fellow rookie Warren Cromartie in left and Ellis Valentine in right, Montreal’s young outfield was “shutting off runs that in previous seasons would be foregone conclusions” with their arms and range.

“[Manager Dick Williams] was sincere and around the middle of June, he told me I was going to play every day,” Dawson said to the AP. “I’m very thankful to him for giving me the opportunity to play and I can sincerely say he was super to me. Fortunately for me things did work out. I played well and I sincerely feel I deserve the award. I felt I had proved myself in the minor leagues and these was no use playing there anymore.”

Dawson was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010.

Arielle Gordon is the Digital Content Specialist at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
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