Chicago Cubs: Turning insult to injury into a phenomenal mid-career run
Despite being the greatest player in Expos history and one of the game’s top outfielders, Dawson only received one offer from Montreal, which included a significant pay cut. Needless to say, he felt insulted, given what he’d done for the club.
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During that year, baseball owners were actually colluding with one another in order to stop free agency, which explained Dawson’s contractual dilemma. Stiffed by his former team, he set his sights elsewhere. After eight different knee surgeries, he expressed his desire to play on natural glass. After resistance from Cubs general manager Dallas Green and months of insistence that he would not sign Dawson, the two sides reached a deal and Wrigley Field became the perfect landing spot for The Hawk.
Playing at the Friendly Confines really showcased Dawson’s true talent and resurgence. His power numbers reached new heights and he managed to stay fully healthy for the first time in years. Cubs fans were immediately drawn to him and Dawson became a fan favorite, especially with the Bleacher Bums stationed near his patrol in right field.
1987 was a monstrous first season with the Cubs. He bashed 49 home runs (which tied Mark McGwire for the Major League lead), drove in 137 runs and had 353 total bases while hitting .287. Despite his gaudy production, the Cubs finished the season in last place.
At season’s end, Dawson was named the National League MVP, becoming the first player to be awarded the honor while playing for a last-place team.