Andre Dawson

The Top 5 individual offensive performances in a Cubs uniform

The Top 5 individual offensive performances in a Cubs uniform

I remember where I was with crystal clear clarity on June 23, 1984 when one of the greatest offensive performances in Chicago Cubs history occurred in a nationally televised game between the Cubs and Cardinals.

I was at Wrigley Field as a beer vendor and I knew that on a gorgeous summer day with the Cardinals in town, a capacity crowd would be buying a lot of beer.

My love for sports made being a vendor the perfect summer job because I could watch baseball on both sides of town and I could make good money. However, there were days like that Saturday that I couldn’t concentrate on beer sales because the game was so compelling. And sports was way higher than beer sales on my priority list for the direction where I wanted my life to go.

As that game began, the Cubs were in third place in the National League’s East division, but they were a surprising 1.5 games behind the division-leading Mets after struggling throughout much of spring. That put the game on national TV into more spotlight than had been expected when the season began.

The Cubs trailed the Cardinals 7-1 in the bottom of the 5th and 9-3 in the bottom of the 6th before their offense kicked it into gear and got the Cubs back into the game. However, the Cubs headed into the bottom of the 9th trailing the Cards 9-8 and they were facing Hall of Fameer Bruce Sutter, one of the best closers in the history of the game.

Ryne Sandberg led off with a home run to tie the game, but that was just a prelude to what he would do in the 10th inning. The Redbirds scored twice off of Cubs all-star reliever Lee Smith in the top of the 10th to make the score 11-9 and with Sutter still in the game, it seemed certain the Cubs would lose a tough one.

However, if the Cubs could get a man on, Sandberg would bat again. Bob Dernier walked on a very close pitch to give the Cubs second baseman another chance.

Sandberg did the unthinkable, taking Sutter deep again and tying the game at 11, sending Wrigley into a frenzy. When the Cubs finally won the game on a Dave Owen base hit in the bottom of the 11th it was almost anticlimactic because all anyone wanted to talk about was “The Sandberg Game” after he went 5-for-6 with 7 RBI and the two dramatic homers off of Sutter.

So what was the greatest individual offensive performance by a Cub in my lifetime?

Here are my five best Cubs individual offensive performances ranked in order:

1)  Ryne Sandberg (June 23, 1984): 5-for-6 with 2 HRs and 7 RBI vs St. Louis Cardinals

See above

2)  Kris Bryant (June 27, 2016): 5-for-5 with 3 HRs and 2 2Bs vs Cincinnati Reds

Bryant went 5-for-5 with 6 RBI and became the first player in baseball's modern era (dating back to 1913) to hit three home runs and two doubles in the same game. 

He also set a Cubs franchise record with 16 total bases, as the Cubs beat the Reds 11-8 in Cincinnati. It was the first 3-HR game of Bryant's career. He was named the 2016 National League MVP at the conclusion of that season. He also helped lead the Cubs to a World Series title, the franchise's first in 108 years.

3)  Dave Kingman (May 14, 1978): 4-for-7 with 3 HRs and 8 RBI vs Los Angeles Dodgers

A performance that drove Dodgers Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda to go on a profanity-laden tirade after he was asked to give his opinion on Kingman's performance in the Cubs' 15-inning victory at Dodger Stadium. King Kong smashed 3 home runs, including a game-tying blast in the 9th and a game-winner in the 15th.

4) Tuffy Rhodes (April 4, 1994): 4-for-4 with 3 HRs (all off of Dwight Gooden) vs. New York Mets

Karl "Tuffy" Rhodes became a Cubs legend when he belted 3 home runs on Opening Day, all off of New York Mets superstar pitcher Dwight "Doc" Gooden. Rhodes never became a household name in the majors, but he did become a home-run-hitting superstar during a 13 year career in Japan's professional ranks.

5. Sammy Sosa (August 10, 2002): 3-for-4 with 3 HRs and 9 RBI vs. Colorado Rockies

Slammin' Sammy crushed three 3 run home runs in just 5 innings in the Cubs' 15-1 mauling of the Colorado Rockies. He was pulled from the game with the Cubs well in control, denying him a shot at a four home run game.

Honorable Mention

Kyle Schwarber (July 21, 2015 vs Cincinnati Reds): 4-for-7, 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI — game-tying HR in 9th and game-winning HR in 13th

Andre Dawson (August 1, 1987 vs Philadelphia Phillies): 3-for-4, 3 HRs, 5 RBI 

Willson Contreras (May 11, 2018 vs Chicago White Sox): 4-for-5, 2 2Bs, 2 HRs, 7 RBI 

Starlin Castro (May 7, 2010 vs Cincinnati Reds): 2-for-5, 3B, HR, 6 RBI

George Mitterwald (April 17, 1974 vs Pittsburgh Pirates): 4-for-4 2B, 3 HRs, BB, 8 RBI

How a White Sox hat led Andre Dawson to the Cubs

How a White Sox hat led Andre Dawson to the Cubs

Andre Dawson knows what it's like to be on both sides of Chicago's Crosstown rivalry.

Well, not really.

But he at least knows what it's like to wear a White Sox hat, even if he never played on the South Side.

Dawson tried on a White Sox hat one time in the middle of the 1986 season, just months away from his first foray into free agency. He was being connected to the Sox in trade rumors and was convinced once by a grounds crew member to put on a White Sox hat.

That one moment of fate helped lead Dawson to Chicago's North Side, where he won the National League MVP Award the next summer.

Let him explain:

“Year 10 when I was a free agent, I was being mentioned in rumors about a trade involving myself going to the White Sox for Daryl Boston. My name was mentioned and it was prior to my having 10-and-5 status. I met a guy that was on the grounds crew and he was a big White Sox fan. He had a Chicago White Sox hat on while he was out tending to the ground crew duties. 

“I walked over to him and said, ‘do you mind if I borrow your hat?’ and he said ‘no.’ And he said ‘you can keep it if you want it.’ I said ‘no, I don’t really want it.’ Anyway, I took that hat and I put it on and I can remember asking Warren Cromartie how I looked in this hat. Cro started laughing and said you know somebody is probably going to take a picture of you with this hat on.

“It didn’t even dawn on me that I was doing something inappropriate, I just wanted to see how I looked with the hat on. Well, as it turned out, they just didn’t appreciate that I was out on the field with the White Sox hat on. The trade never came to fruition. I wound up ending the season in Montreal, but Chicago, just the thought of Chicago, not the White Sox per se, but Chicago, I kind of think it had a ring to it.”

Dawson was granted free agency after the '86 season and inked a deal with the Cubs, where he spent the next 6 seasons.

"The Hawk" led the league with 49 homers and 137 RBI in 1987, taking home MVP honors for a last-place club.

Andre Dawson slams Derek Jeter, calls new Marlins owner unprofessional

Andre Dawson slams Derek Jeter, calls new Marlins owner unprofessional

Andre Dawson — better known as "The Hawk" to Cubs fans — has spent the last 17 years as a special assistant in the Miami/Florida Marlins front office.

But when a new ownership group led by Derek Jeter came to town, Dawson was sent packing, along with fellow Hall of Famer Tony Perez.

Dawson — a Miami native who owns a restaurant in the area — has since rejoined the Cubs organization in an official capacity.

In an interview with NBC Sports Chicago while the Cubs were visiting the Marlins in Miami over the weekend, Dawson let it rip on Jeter and the new Marlins ownership:

"He made an 'unpopular decision,' the way he likes to put it," Dawson said. "The one thing about new ownership — it's their money, their team. They have a sense of direction.

"I didn't think it was handled professionally or the right way. First of all, you gotta know what you're signing up for and if you're gonna do that, you handle baseball people the right way. You stand up to them and you do it yourself to their face. You don't let someone else make a phone call for you. 

"That was the only thing I thought was quite unprofessional. He supposedly has a genuine reputation about the type of classy individual he is. But no. 

"I thank him for doing me a favor, because it allowed me the opportunity of a lifetime."

So not only was Dawson fired, but it sounds like Jeter didn't even make the call himself.

Dawson will throw out the first pitch at Wrigley Field on the Cubs' home opener (April 9) with other Cubs legends.