MLB

Former MVP Andre Dawson is a Baseball Hall of Famer Who Now Deals With Death

Many Hall of Fame inductees live comfortably on their savings and investments, supplemented by speaking engagements and autograph signings that cash in on their enshrinement in Cooperstown. Andre Dawson was already deep into his third career by the time he was elected, so he’s just kept on working.

Andre Dawson operates a funeral home now

Andre Dawson would be recognized by clients at work more often these days if he wasn’t wearing a mask. The mask explains why business has been busier than usual recently. Dawson, now 65 years old, owns a funeral home in South Florida and has handled arrangements for six deceased COVID-19 patients thus far.

“It’s very sad,” Dawson told The Associated Press. “It’s very sad. Because people mourn and grieve differently, and they’re not getting through that process as they would under normal circumstances. You see a lot of hurt and pain.”

Dawson, who retired from baseball in 1996, began in the funeral business in 2003 and says it took some time to get used to it. Now, he and the more than 20 employees are making adjustments because of the coronavirus pandemic that had killed more than 63,000 Americans through the end of last month.

There are adjustments for grieving families, too. Dawson has to explain to them that chapel services must be kept short and are limited to 10 people as a precaution against further spread of the virus. Sadly, he expects to have to handle more deaths related to COVID-19.

Dawson was at spring training in Arizona when the coronavirus shut down baseball and all other sports. MLB executives are trying to figure out when and how they can start the 2020 season. Most scenarios have much of the season being played in empty stadiums.

“It would be like a ‘B’ game on the back field in spring training,” Dawson said. “Fans are what drives you. That’s who you play for. I can’t see that. I understand the concept behind it, but you’ve got to have fans.”

Andre Dawson’s third career

Andre Dawson ended his Hall of Fame career with the Florida Marlins, retiring after the 1996 season. He stayed with that organization in a front-office capacity, receiving a World Series ring in 2003. After quitting the franchise when the ownership group led by Derek Jeter made deep cuts, Dawson rejoined the Chicago Cubs organization as a goodwill ambassador and special assistant.

Dawson entered the funeral business in 2003 when he became an investor in his younger brother’s business. He took over as the owner of Paradise Memorial 12 years ago, and his wife is the office manager. It made for quite a change for someone who says he was afraid of funerals as a child.

“When it came to funeral homes and seeing someone in a casket, it would remind me of being young and going to see a real scary horror movie and not being able to sleep at night. That’s where I was. But you grow and change with the times.”

Andre Dawson

A long and steady career in the majors

Andre Dawson’s 21-year career in Major League Baseball began with his selection as the National League Rookie of the Year in 1977. He would go on to become an MVP in 1987 after leading the National League with 49 home runs and 137 RBIs and was selected to the All-Star Game eight times.

Nicknamed “The Hawk,” Dawson won Gold Gloves eight times in a nine-season span and batted .300 five times. He finished with career totals of 438 homers, 1,531 RBIs, and a .279 average. Dawson is one of eight players with at least 300 career homers and 300 stolen bases.

He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010 after being elected in his ninth year of eligibility.