- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Dawson is Valentine's silent partner. "Andre has to become more aggressive and take charge on the field." says Williams, who was so turned off in spring training by Dawson's reserved nature that he did not move him into the regular lineup until May 29. "It took me a while to feel comfortable," Dawson says. Still, he never uses two words when one will do, and rarely uses even one.
Born and raised in Miami, Dawson was the 250th player selected in the 1975 draft and signed with the Expos for $2,000. In 186 minor league games he hit .343, and had 41 home runs and 130 RBIs. In typical fashion, the Expos promptly rushed him to Montreal. What better way to placate their disgruntled fans than to give them a centerfielder named Andre—even if he were no more of a Frenchman than Ken Dryden.
Since becoming a regular, Dawson has batted .316 and picked up a new nickname, "Awesome" Dawson. St. Louis Manager Vern Rapp, who managed Dawson last year at Denver, says. " Dawson is the kind of complete player who comes along once in a lifetime."
The comedian of the group is the loud and cocky Cromartie, but all too often he makes people laugh with his fielding antics in left field. In one game he turned a fly-ball out into a three-base hit when he casually flipped the ball out of his glove instead of removing it with his bare hand. In another game he dropped a fly ball while attempting an unnecessary one-handed stab. And then there is his four-star classic: he moved in to catch a routine fly ball only to have the ball land behind him and roll for an inside-the-park home run.
"My disadvantage is defense," Cromartie admits. "I can accept that, though, because I can make up for it with my bat." Sometimes he does. Playing for Quebec three years ago, he lost the Eastern League's batting title by .009, and last season at Denver he was among the leaders in the American Association batting race when the Expos recalled him in August.
The only left-handed batter of the threesome, Cromartie works regularly with a batting tee to maintain his level swing. He has hit left-handed pitchers well (.261), but has failed to come through when Expo runners have been in scoring position (.211). Cromartie did not hit his first major league home run until his 402nd at bat for the Expos, and when the ball disappeared over the right-field fence he charged around the bases with his right fist raised. When he reached the dugout, though, none of the Expos were there to greet him. Instead, the players were trying to "revive" Williams, who was stretched out on the floor. "I like to laugh," Cromartie says, "and I like to make people laugh."
Cromartie, who like Dawson grew up in Miami, married a French-Canadian, the former Carole Ringuet, in December 1975 and now Montreal's baseball fans just hope that the Expos don't trade off Cromartie the same way they disposed of Singleton, Torrez, Tim Foli, and Bill Stoneman after they had married Quebecers. Barring that, as Second Baseman Dave Cash says. " Montreal's outfield problems are solved for the next five to ten years."