Friday, September 14, 2012
Into the Sunset, Pt. 5: Andre Dawson
The 1990's sure was an interesting decade for baseball cards.
So many different sets. So many different designs. Some good, some bad.
I caught the tail end of it. From what I saw, it was pure madness. There's no way anyone could've kept up with all the different sets being released at that time, especially kids like myself who were just starting to get into the hobby at the time.
Ironically, it's almost impossible to find anything from the decade nowadays, although I'm not quite sure why that is.
As a result, my collection leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to guys who retired during the '90s. The "sunset" cards are few and far between, for the most part.
However, I don't want to completely ignore the decade with this theme.
Up until now, the players I've featured had their final issues released during the 1980's or the 2000's.
While I know I'm missing a few of his "sunset" cards, Andre Dawson will be the first player I'll be featuring from the 1990's.
Dawson's best years were obviously spent with the Expos and Cubs, a time when he was a perennial Gold Glove winner and a feared hitter at the plate.
"The Hawk" would capture his only MVP award with the last-place Cubs in 1987. For that reason, it's fitting that '87 is his "peak year" of cardboard as well. (To me, anyways.)
However, it's tremendously different than any other card in my collection.
It's a card of him getting hit in the face, brought to you by the great folks at Classic.
It was the best card from the "greatest dime box ever", definitely one of the best ways a dime has been spent in the history of mankind. (More on the details of that particular shot in that "dime box" post.)
An honorable mention needs to be given to Dawson's 1993 Upper Deck issue. Up until a couple months ago, I'd assumed that it would always be my favorite card of "The Hawk".
After his successes in Montreal and Chicago, Dawson found himself with the Red Sox, where he'd have a couple of sub-par seasons.
He'd finish his career with two less-than-spectacular years with the still-improving Florida Marlins.
Thankfully, card companies did a nice job of giving Dawson an appropriate send-off, even if they had to do it by showing him in those awful teal '90s Marlins jerseys.
A lot of the time, bloggers will say that a scan "doesn't do the card justice".
Not in this case.
If anything, this scan actually makes Dawson's 1996 Flair issue look a little better than it does in person.
I think Fleer's Flair issues are a good example of a card company trying to be a little too "fancy". Now that I think of it, I can't recall any type of Flair-related set that I've actually enjoyed.
Not surprisingly, this one brings up the rear in this countdown.
Another byproduct of the "trying to be too fancy" epidemic that I just described.
Although I like their earlier sets a little better, I've never gotten excited over anything related to Finest.
The only thing that saves this one from being a complete bust is the fact that the green background actually finds a way to work with the green colors of the '90s Marlins jerseys.
Still, it's not enough to put Finest into the "top three".
The first two cards I've shown in the countdown were from 1996.
However, Dawson's official "sunset" issues come from '97. I allowed both years into this post because Dawson didn't have a whole lot of cards issued during his Marlins days, at least of what's reflected in my collection.
Since his final big league season took place in '96, 1997 cards of "The Hawk" feature his full career stats on the back.
Always a plus when it comes to "sunset" cards.
Donruss comes in at number three here.
My favorite thing about this card is that the wall behind Dawson perfectly blends in with those ugly teal jerseys. It's almost like camouflage.
Other than the uniform, there's not a whole lot to complain about with this one. Nice, simple design, the aforementioned career stats on the back, and a great, peaceful shot of a future Hall-of-Famer.
Not bad at all for the "bronze medalist" in this countdown.
Upper Deck's "sunset" nominee comes in at number two on this list.
Unfortunately, I don't own a copy of Dawson's regular 1997 Upper Deck base card.
Still, this card of "The Hawk" from the UD-produced Collector's Choice isn't a bad alternative in the least.
I've always thought that Collector's Choice was one of the most overlooked sets in baseball card history. Given it's fairly large checklist, it had a little something to offer for almost every collector. (Hence, the name.)
The little "Tribute" pennant they added to this one was a nice touch. In this hobby, it's rare to see a card company acknowledge a player's "send-off".
Batting cage shots have always been a favorite of mine. The fact that this is also one of Dawson's "sunset" issues makes it one of the better cards of the '90s.
Still, it's not enough to make it his best cardboard send-off.
That honor goes to...
Topps, of course.
Even though their 1997 design was probably one of their worst on record, they managed to slip this gem into the checklist.
As I've mentioned before, any card that features Wrigley Field is an instant classic in my book.
This one is more than just "classic".
Given Dawson's legendary ties to the North Siders, it's a neat way to show the circle of baseball life. Although he may be wearing a different uniform, Topps managed to capture a shot of Dawson in the place where he spent some of his best years.
It's a work of art.
Send-offs don't get much better than that.