By Bob Nightengale |
Andre Dawson’s ownership of a funeral home has only enriched his connection to the area in which he was raised and developed the skills that made him a Hall of Famer.
It’s a community that felt Dawson’s pain, too, when he was fired as a Miami Marlins special assistant last September along with fellow Hall of Famer Tony Perez when Derek Jeter’s group purchased the franchise. Dawson, who had been with the Marlins since 1996, was with the club throughout spring training, every home game, was a sounding board for the front office, coaching staff and players.
The job paid Dawson and Perez $85,000, which he could have made in few weekend autograph shows, but he loved being involved with baseball in his own hometown.
They were called into Marlins president Mike Hill’s office late just before the 2017 season ended, and were told that since they were special assistants to president David Samson, and he was gone, their jobs were being eliminated.
The firings also included former World Series manager Jack McKeon and Mr. Marlin himself, Jeff Conine. The outrage among an already jaded Marlins fan base led to a follow-up telephone call when Dawson and Perez received offers to return. Their salaries would be slashed to $25,000, and they would not be permitted to wear Marlins uniforms or be in the major-league clubhouse.
Dawson couldn’t believe it.
“I know what time it is,’’ Dawson said, “they didn’t want us there, not at all. They made us an offer knowing we would walk away from it.
“I remember a few months later one of the owners from New York said, ‘Hey, why don’t you come back, and in two years after Jeter has a chance to evaluate you, maybe we can do something financially?’
“I said, “With all due respect, they need to pay me to evaluate him.’’
Dawson, who was hired in January by the Cubs to be a special assistant, hasn’t been to Marlins Park since his departure. He doesn’t watch the games. He won’t listen.
And in two years, it’s going to be a fascinating scene when Jeter is inducted into the Hall of Fame, considering Dawson and Perez’s enormous popularity with their fellow enshrinees.