Andre Dawson played 21 years in Major League Baseball. He got his start in 1976 during 24 games with the Montreal Expos. The following year, he won Rookie of the Year to kick off a strong MLB career.
Dawson played for four organizations and most notably was a five-time All-Star and MVP with the Chicago Cubs. The 2010 Hall of Fame inductee also spent time with the Expos, the Boston Red Sox, and the then-Florida Marlins. He finished his career with a .279 average and 438 homers.
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But now, Dawson is in a different field. While he serves as a special assistant to the Cubs, he also is a mortician. How exactly did that happen? He invested in his younger brother's business back in 2003 and from there, an opportunity to manage a funeral home fell opened up.
"It kind of fell into my lap," Dawson said to the Associated Press. "Growing up I could have never envisioned this. I was actually afraid of the dead when I was a kid.
"When it came to funeral homes and seeing someone in a casket, it would remind me of being young and going to see a real scary horror movie and not being able to sleep at night. That’s where I was. But you grow and change with the times."
Dawson knows a little bit about changing with the times from his days playing baseball. He dealt with a number of injuries during his career and after signing with the Red Sox, he had to go from being an outfielder to primarily serving as a designated hitter. And with the Red Sox, Dawson hit .260 with 29 home runs and 115 RBIs in 196 games over the course of two seasons after taking over that role.
Now, of course, the changes that Dawson faces are related to the coronavirus pandemic. And safe to say, they have been difficult to adapt to. For Dawson, that has meant organizing abnormally short and small services with guests wearing masks and gloves.
"It's very sad," Dawson said. “It's very sad. Because people mourn and grieve differently, and they're not getting through that process as they would under normal circumstances. You see a lot of hurt and pain."
But as Dawson says, it's all about rolling with the uncertainty and being prepared for whatever comes next.
"It's stressful because of the times and the uncertainty," Dawson said. "But this is what we signed up for. As challenging as it can be, we just pray and hope we’re prepared for it."