CHICAGO -- Andre Dawson may very well spend the remainder of his post-playing career as a member of the Miami Marlins organization, but he will always be a welcomed guest to Wrigley Field -- especially this time of year.Dawson, a Hall of Famer who played six of his 21 seasons
CHICAGO -- Andre Dawson may very well spend the remainder of his post-playing career as a member of the Miami Marlins organization, but he will always be a welcomed guest to Wrigley Field -- especially this time of year.
Dawson, a Hall of Famer who played six of his 21 seasons with the Cubs from 1987 to '92, threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 2 of the National League Championship Series on Sunday night, a 1-0 Dodgers win. It was the continuation of a long line of Cubs favorites that have been invited back to celebrate the Cubs' postseason run, and Dawson, who won the NL MVP Award as a member of the Cubs in 1987, was a natural selection.
• NLCS Game 3: Tuesday night at 8 ET/7 CT on FS1
• Cubs postseason gear
:: NLCS: Dodgers vs. Cubs coverage ::
Dawson blended in well while lounging in the Cubs' dugout during batting practice on Sunday, looking entirely at home as he caught up with current players and fellow Cubs legend Billy Williams. Although he works for the Marlins, Dawson said he has always kept an eye on his former club, and he's not at all surprised with its recent run of success.
"A couple of years ago, I gave them a couple of years before I felt they would start to make some real noise," Dawson said. "All of the pieces are in place. I gave them two years, but it happened a year sooner."
In his career, Dawson played in two postseasons: 1981 with the Expos, and '89 with the Cubs. The sting of losing the NLCS against the Giants in his second and final postseason is still fresh on his mind, and as a former player who fully understands the history of Cubs heartbreak in the Windy City, Dawson realizes how much this October run means to the Cubs' faithful.
Dawson gets this even more than one may think. He was at Wrigley Field in 2003 for the infamous Game 6 -- some may remember it best as the "Bartman Game" that ultimately cost the Cubs a chance to win the NL pennant.
That series was played against the Marlins -- Dawson's Marlins. "Hawk" watched the game with his front-office brethren, but toward the end of the game, when the win was firmly in the Marlins' hands, Dawson began to make his way down the ramps toward the visitors' clubhouse. He was struck, and saddened, by the hush that had come over Wrigley Field in the wake of such a crushing loss.
Though his team had won the game, Dawson remembered feeling conflicted as he gazed toward the crowd.
"I could feel the hurt," he said. "All the stuff about the history, and then to have it snatched away from you. ... I knew what that hurt felt like. To see that, I could identify with what that must have felt like. I was a member of the opposition, but to hear, to see the fans, to see the hush ... it was really hard to enjoy that moment."
Cubs outfielder Chris Coghlan caught Dawson's first pitch. Coghlan got to know Dawson when they were together in the Marlins' organization, and Coghlan wears No. 8 in honor of Dawson.
In addition to the ceremonial first pitch, Game 2 pregame festivities included the national anthem and "God Bless America" performed by Wrigley Field staple Wayne Messmer. The Illinois Army National Guard 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team presented the colors.
The seventh-inning stretch was scheduled to be led by three members of the Chicago Blackhawks: Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook.
Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.