8 no stoppin’ us now

Now that the Cubs have pushed their win streak to 8 games, I can’t help but think about Andre Dawson, my favorite Cubs player of all time.

The Hawk wore number 8 while he was with the Cubs from 1987 to 1992. The right field bleachers were the only place in the park to sit back in those days, and why not? Bleacher tickets cost just $4 back then, and during his MVP season in Chicago, at least, beer vendors still worked the crowd out there. Chants and counter-chants of “Right Field Sucks!” and “Left Field Sucks!” filled the air on a regular basis. And the now-familiar light registers on top of the ballpark were nowhere to be found.

Being at the ballpark sure beat attending classes, that was for sure. Thanks in large measure to Andre Dawson and his awesome presence in right field, Wrigley Field’s bleachers felt like heaven on earth to me.

When the Cubs had Andre Dawson day in his honor, during his last season in the majors in 1996, there was no way I was going to miss it. Never before, and perhaps never again, was such love poured down from the bleachers upon a member of a visiting team (since the Hawk was with the Florida Marlins at the time). He felt that love and reciprocated it back to the fans, as well.

When the time came for him to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010, he didn’t come right out and say he wanted a Cubs hat to appear on his plaque in Cooperstown, but he left little doubt about his warm regards for the Cubs and their fans. Even though he was enshrined in an Expos cap, he’ll always be a Cub to me.

It felt wrong to see Mike Quade wearing Dawson’s number 8 when he managed the Cubs a few years back. Chris Coghlan wears number 8 now, but whenever I see it I still think of Andre Dawson, instead. That’s probably why teams will retire a player’s number, both out of respect for the player and to spare the fans the sight of another player wearing the same number some day in the future.

So with the Cubs now riding an amazing win streak–and setting us all up for a stretch run to remember–I wanted to send a shout out to the Hawk, and remember the good old days out in the right field bleachers. May he, and all the rest of us, see things that we haven’t before seen in Wrigley Field this fall.

Photo: Hawk watches a Ryno double / guano / CC BY-SA 2.0