Believe it or not, Shawon Dunston was once the most highly-coveted prospect in baseball. After hitting an astounding .790 in his senior year at Thomas Jefferson High School in Brooklyn, Dunston was taken with the first overall pick in the 1982 MLB draft by the Chicago Cubs, becoming the first player from the New York area to be selected with the top pick. He was taken four spots ahead of another phenom that ended up taking the Big Apple by storm, Dwight Gooden. But Dunston may have had just as strong of an arm as Gooden and his rocket throws at Wrigley Field became legendary.
Shawon Dunston became one of the most popular players for the Cubs in the ’80 and ’90s before bouncing around the league to end his career. So where is the two-time MLB All-Star today?
Shawon Dunston was a two-time MLB All-Star with the Chicago Cubs
After a few seasons in the minors, Shawon Dunston made his big-league debut with the Chicago Cubs in April 1985, beating out Larry Bowa for the starting shortstop job in spring training. But he struggled early and often and was sent back down to the minors for a stretch. After playing very well at Triple-A Iowa, Dunston returned to the majors later that summer, at which point Bowa was released.
Over the next few years, Dunston became one of the most popular players at Wrigley Field, despite the North Siders not being very competitive. The “Shawon-O-Meter” became a huge deal in the bleachers every year, which tracked Dunston’s batting average throughout the season. He made his first MLB All-Star appearance in 1988, helped the Cubs to the NLCS in 1989, and earned a second All-Star selection in 1990, the last time the Midsummer Classic was held at the Friendly Confines.
Dunston signed a four-year/$12 million deal with the Cubs following the 1991 season but played just 25 total games the next two seasons following back surgery in May 1992. Chicago actually put him in the expansion draft that year but neither the Marlins nor the Rockies picked him up. He became a free agent following the ’95 season and chose to sign with the San Francisco Giants for the ’96 campaign as the Cubs were looking to move him to third base. He returned to Chicago in 1997 but was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in August.
He bounced around the majors in the final years of his career
Shawon Dunston finished the 1997 season with the Pirates and then signed a one-year deal with the Cleveland Indians for the 1998 season. Midway through the season, the Tribe traded him to the Giants, with whom he finished the season. Much to the chagrin of Cubs fans, Dunston signed a one-year deal with the rival Cardinals in 1999 but once again didn’t make it through an entire season with one club.
St. Louis traded him to the New York Mets midway through the year but he re-signed with the Cards for the 2000 season and played the entire season for them. It was the first time in four years that he wore just one uniform. In 2001, Shawon Dunston returned to the Giants for a third time and finished his career there. In 2002, he played in the World Series for the first time, hitting a home run in Game 6 against the Angels. The Giants lost the series in seven games and Dunston quietly retired after 18 big-league seasons.
In 1,814 MLB games, Shawon Dunston hit .269 with 150 home runs and 668 runs batted in, also adding 212 stolen bases. Unfortunately, no statistic exists on just how many bruises he left on the hands of all the first basemen he played with over the years.
Where is Shawon Dunston today?
These days, Shawon Dunston is still with the San Francisco Giants as a Special Assistant to Player Development, a position he’s held for the last 11 years. He oversees the team’s replay system and also works as an on-field instructor.
His son, Shawon Dunston Jr., was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 11th round of the 2011 MLB draft but never rose above the Single-A level. He joined his father in the Giants organization, playing two seasons in the minors, again never making it about Single-A ball. He spent the last two years playing in various independent leagues.
*All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference