When I was growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, my dad and I were massive Boston Celtics fans (we still are). One thing he used to always say was that the Celtics had a history of getting other teams’ superstars when they were way past their prime. In the case of Andre Dawson, the Red Sox seemed to be taking a page out of the Celtics’ book.
Dawson was already a veteran of seventeen seasons, eleven in Montreal followed by six in Chicago with the Cubs, when the Red Sox signed him as a free agent in the winter of 1992. I remember being really excited while my dad was telling me how old and rundown he was.
Dawson had been a star in his younger days, winning NL Rookie of the Year in 1977 and the NL MVP in 1987. By the time he got to Boston, though, his best days were well behind him. Suffering from chronic knee problems, Dawson had been moved from center field to right field during his Cubs days and that’s where the Red Sox initially put him.
However, right field at Fenway Park is cavernous and I remember how much of a sad sight it was to see Dawson hobbling around out there running after balls. While he did hit his 400th career home run early in the 1993 season, Dawson ended up re-injuring one of his knees and spent most of the remainder of the season as a DH.
He played in 121 games in 1993, hitting .273 with 13 HR and 67 RBI. He ended having surgery on his knee at the end of the season and missed most of 1994, only playing in 75 games for the Red Sox and hitting .240 with 16 home runs and 48 RBI. After the season, he left for the Marlins and the final two forgettable seasons of his Hall of Fame career.
In Dawson’s case, he was well past his prime physically when the Red Sox signed him and he just didn’t have much left in the tank. While it ended up not being a great signing, there were no hard feelings and you’d be hard-pressed to find any fans who disliked Dawson during his time in Boston. He was simply old and broken down by the time he put a Red Sox uniform on.