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Game loves Dawson back

Former ump Doug Harvey wipes tears during his acceptance speech, which he prerecorded because of throat cancer.

Associated Press

Former ump Doug Harvey wipes tears during his acceptance speech, which he prerecorded because of throat cancer.

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — "The Hawk" has landed in Coopers­town.

Andre Dawson, who endured 12 knee surgeries to forge an impressive 21-year major-league career, was inducted Sunday into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, becoming just the 203rd player in the game's long history to receive the honor.

"Thank you for welcoming this rookie to your team," said Dawson, who played for a decade in Montreal before signing with the Cubs. "It's an honor beyond words. I didn't play this game with this goal in mind, but I'm living proof that if you love this game, the game will love you back."

Dawson, 56, an eight-time All-Star who had 438 homers, 2,774 hits, 1,591 RBIs and 314 stolen bases in his career from 1976-96, warned players not to be lured to the dark side of using performance-enhancing drugs.

"There's nothing wrong with the game of baseball," said Dawson, one of three players to hit 400 homers and steal 300 bases. "Baseball will, from time to time like anything else in life, fall victim to the mistakes that people make. It's not pleasant, and it's not right."

Dawson was part of a class that included former manager Whitey Herzog, umpire Doug Harvey, broadcaster Jon Miller and sports writer Bill Madden. The ceremony also honored Rock and Roll Hall of Famer John Fogerty, who sang his classic song Centerfield.

Herzog, 78, managed for 18 seasons, 11 with the Cardinals after stints in Texas, California and Kansas City. He guided the Royals to three consecutive playoff appearances in the 1970s and led the Cardinals to the 1982 World Series title just two years after he was hired.

The Cards also made World Series appearances in 1985 and 1987 under Herzog, who finished his managing career in 1990 with a record of 1,279-1,123, a .532 winning percentage.

"Ever since I was elected in December, people have asked, 'What's it feel like to be a Hall of Famer?' " Herzog said. "Now I can tell you what it feels like. It feels like going to heaven before you die."

Harvey, 80, who worked in the National League from 1962-92, called 4,673 regular-season games during his major-league career and umpired five World Series, six All-Star Games and nine NL Championship Series.

Nicknamed "God" during his heyday because of his authoritative, no-nonsense demeanor on the field, Harvey lived up to the moniker on his special day.

Suffering from throat cancer, he recorded his 20-minute acceptance speech in the spring. It began raining while the video was playing, but by the time he addressed the crowd the sun was shining.

"I want you to notice that I stopped the rain," he deadpanned in closing.

"My only ambition has been to improve the profession," said Harvey, who learned from his father and didn't attend umpiring school because he couldn't afford it. "I've tried to mentor, teaching them everything I know about the game."

Game loves Dawson back 07/25/10 [Last modified: Sunday, July 25, 2010 11:15pm]
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