“The Hawk Will Never Die!”
The battle cry of the St. Joseph’s men’s basketball team has become well known across the nation. The Hawk mascot lives up to the school’s motto every single game. It is constantly moving throughout the game—flapping its wings, pumping up the crowd, and running circles around the court. The relentless effort from the mascot has come to symbolize the school and the team. It is a fitting symbol for St. Joe’s, as the university sits in the blue-collar city of Philadelphia. The team honors the code too. The Hawks go to work every day, ready to fight for every loose ball to claw out another victory. The raucous Philly crowd loves the Hawk and what it stands for, a scrappy and undying work ethic.
“The Hawk Will Never Die!”
The old St. Joe’s motto is also a perfect fit for baseball’s “Hawk.” Andre Dawson was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday, earning 77.9% of the vote. Dawson joins the immortals in Cooperstown after a nine-year wait. As noted by Cubbies Crib, his career is certainly impressive: Rookie of The Year, MVP, eight Gold Gloves, eight All-Star games, and the distinction of becoming the third player in history to have 400 home runs and 300 stolen bases. He was nearly unmatched in his combination of defensive and offensive excellence. Dawson possessed a rocket for an arm and swung fiercely every at bat. But perhaps what sets Dawson apart is “The Hawk.”
“The Hawk.” The relentless drive and work ethic to be great. Dawson played his entire career in pain, pain that began before he set foot in the MLB. It began in high school on the gridiron for Dawson. An injury on the football field led to his first knee surgery. He would go under the knife a total of twelve times to fix his knees. The pain could never be fixed, though. Besides the football injury, Dawson’s knees deteriorated every day for 11 seasons running on concrete for the Montreal Expos. But he never complained and he never made excuses. He just played harder.
Then, the Expos didn’t want him anymore. Dawson had nowhere to go. But “The Hawk” never quits. He gave the Chicago Cubs a blank check and took a huge pay cut. It wasn’t about the money. Dawson then had the best season of his career, winning the MVP while carrying the last place Cubs. He smashed 49 home runs and was instantly loved by the Wrigley faithful. He was one of the best all-around players during that era and his teammates and opponents took notice.
Ryne Sandberg has given Dawson his support since his own induction day in 2005. Sandberg’s rousing speech centering on respect resonated throughout the baseball universe. Dawson was a part of that speech as Sandberg’s prime example of a respectful teammate and friend. There are countless stories of Dawson’s dedication and selfless attitude during his playing days.
Another supporter never shared a locker room with Dawson, but watched him closely. Tony Gwynn looked up to Dawson as “The Man” in the league at that time. Gwynn would go on to have a Hall of Fame career himself as one of the top pure hitters in history.
Sandberg, Gwynn, and others were mesmerized by Dawson’s abilities on the diamond. Those abilities were crafted at a young age taking groundballs and batting practice with his uncle. It was also where “The Hawk” nickname took flight. His uncle noticed the look in young Andre’s eye during batting and fielding; his intense focus on the ball was like that of a hawk swooping in on its prey. The focus and intensity would stay with Andre throughout his career, and helped him fight through the injuries and the pain.
The way Dawson played the game got him into the Hall of Fame. “The Hawk” sets him apart—that pesky attitude to grind out another day. It was there when he was at the park early taking flies, in the trainer’s room with the ice and tape, and in the past nine years as he waited for that phone call.
Now, though, “The Hawk” can rest those aching knees. He can stop flapping his wings and running around. He is one of baseball’s immortals now, ensuring, “The Hawk Will Never Die!”