By Bruce Levine–
(670 The Score) — Back in 1987, Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts was a regular member of the right-field bleacher fan base at Wrigley Field who watched as his favorite player won the National League MVP award. Nowadays, Ricketts has seized the moment to bring that icon back into the fold.
Ricketts and the Cubs have reached an agreement to hire Hall of Fame outfielder Andre Dawson as an ambassador for the organization. News of that first surfaced in November, shortly after a Marlins ownership change forced him out of Miami, and while it’s not official, Dawson confirmed it in an interview on Inside the Clubhouse on Saturday. Dawson is happy to represent the team he played for from 1987-’92.
“It is all but official,” Dawson said. “It is highly likely I will join the organization at some point. There is a proposal being made to get out to me going forward. The proposal will depict what my job will entail. That is something I am looking forward to. This has been a long time coming. I am excited about the opportunity and looking forward to it.”
Dawson’s connection with the team will be like fellow Hall of Famer and former Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg, sources said. They will help with the marketing arm of the organization, which is completely separate from the baseball operations department. Participating in sponsorship and charity functions will be part of Dawson’s role.
Dawson, 63, had long served as a representative for the Marlins since retiring in 1996. As the Marlins sold to an ownership group led by Derek Jeter, Dawson and his role was cast aside as a purge of Miami’s executives and some employees was botched by the new ownership crew.
Dawson, Jeff Conine, Jack McKeon and Tony Perez were all informed of their firings via text message. He was a native of Miami, having been born and raised there.
“In that regard, I think it was handled a little unprofessionally,” Dawson said of his firing and lack of a personal contact from Jeter after 20 years in the organization. “I have no qualms about it. It is their ball club. They paid the money and spend it as they feel fit too. Going forward, we could have addressed it a little better as to what their concerns were. Just the general direction they wanted to go. What got lost in all of this was the community relations aspect of it. It was their idea to move forward. They are going in a different direction, and it was a business decision for them. I respect that. This is what happens in the game.”
Dawson has been a strong advocate for cleaning up the steroid era and not letting players with the tainted performance-enhancing backgrounds in.
“What we are trying to express from our perspective is to adhere to what the rules are,” Dawson said about the parameters set forth by the Hall of Fame in the area of character. “Remember the integrity and character issue when you do place your vote. This is the best Hall of Fame that exists in sports. We just want to keep it that way.”
This weekend, the organization will welcome back Dawson at the Cubs Convention. He’s looking forward to reconnecting with the fan base.
“I am looking forward to this very much,” Dawson said. “Maybe not the single-digit temperatures, but this is the big event of the offseason and it should be exciting. It should be a fun-filled weekend and I am excited about it.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.