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The James P. Dawson award is given annually to the outstanding New York Yankees rookie in
spring training. Can you identify some of the past
winners of this award as described below?
For a tougher challenge, click here to see how many Dawson winners you can name.
This hard throwing Dawson winner boasted five different uniform numbers in
just two seasons with the Yankees. Slated as a possible closer of the
future, he made the team out of spring training, though control issues (41
walks and 35 strikeouts) during an unimpressive two seasons weren't enough
to keep him around. He was dealt to a division rival in the off-season
where he went on to be a serviceable reliever for the next seven seasons and
put together a pretty good 12-year career, almost exclusively as a middle
reliever. He never got his revenge against the Yankees on the mound as
they ususally hit him pretty well. He did have one opportunity to hit
back. In a famous 1998 bench clearing brawl, fueled by Armando Benitez
drilling Tino Martinez, this former Yankee singled out Darryl Strawberry,
leaving him with a bloodied face.
This late 70s winner had quite an eventful season after garnering the award.
He came north with the team and earned a win in his first major league
start. A poor June start against the Red Sox in Fenway triggered
George Steinbrenner to demand he be sent to AAA Tacoma immediately...not
after the game or tonight, but right that minute. He WAS demoted, but
quickly came back and earned four wins in September. He would also get
a start and earn wins both in Game One of the ALCS and an important Game
Five in the World Series with the series tied at two games apiece. The
following year was marred by a high ERA and poor control, which inevitably
led to his being traded to Seattle (along with three others) for Ruppert
Jones and Jim Lewis. He lasted there for seven years, having a few
good seasons by Seattle standards (in those days,) and retired. His
baseball life wasn't through as he later would gain fame as the GM for the
Montreal Expos and the Baltimore Orioles.
One of the best paid of the Dawson winners, this lefty starter was already
the owner of a 5-year/$20 million dollar contract before he stepped foot in
Florida for his first spring with the Yankees. It proved not to be
money well spent as he went 2-3 with a 6.25 ERA once the season began, was
demoted and wallowed in the minors for most of the next four years (outside
of two brief, ineffective appearances the next season.)
The first ever winner of the Dawson Award in 1956. He only managed 54
games and a .204 clip in his rookie season and spent 1957 tearing up AAA.
When he returned in 1958, he proved ready for the bigs, playing 134 games
while hitting .300 with 14 HR and 55 RBI while earning a Gold Glove for his
play in the outfield. His numbers took a slight dip (11 HR, 53 RBI,
.271) in 1959 and was ultimately dealt to Kansas City in the deal that
brought Roger Maris to the Yankees. He played well in KC, finishing
14th in MVP voting in 1961 and 7th in 1962. He also went on to three
all-star appearances, two with KC (1962-63) and one with Baltimore in 1964
when he lead the AL in walks with 106. His career declined following
the '64 season when he spent time in with the Angels, Giants and Red Sox before calling it quits
after being released in 1968.
The 1969 Yankees were so promising that they actually boasted two
rookies good enough to share the award. Yes...that was sarcasm, but
there were indeed two winners. One was a right-handed starter and the
first ever amateur draft pick by the Yankees. He started 24 games and
hung around all season as a competent #4 starter, going 6-8 with a 3.65 ERA.
His 102 walks to 82 strikeout ratio wasn't a good sign however. He
would only appear in 6 more games in his career after '69.
winner already had limited success with the big club, appearing in 20 games
as a September call-up in 1967 when he batted .310 with one HR and 5 RBI.
After missing the 1968 season due to military service, he returned in 1969
where he broke camp with the club, serving as the primary third baseman,
hitting .257 with 25 stolen bases in 130 games. A .193 average in 1970
was followed by a .262 (120 games) in '71. He moved to a bench role in 1972 before
providing the most value for the Yankees as one of the players traded to
Cleveland in the deal that brought Graig Nettles to the Bronx.
This winner came north with the team and stuck around all season, filling a
bench role mostly as a pinch runner. He garnered a reputation for always
finding a way of making things happen on the bases despite only appearing in
45 games, scoring 17 runs and stealing 6 bases. He did hit .380 in his
limited time and proved valuable enough to be included in the trade that
brought Roger Clemens to the Yankees for the first time.
This left-handed reliever picked up the Dawson award the season AFTER his
Yankees debut. His late season stint of 10 appearances in 1974 didn't
impress much numbers wise, but his strong spring in '75 earned him a July
call-up. He made the most of it with a 2.68 ERA and 8 saves. He
started strong the next season with a 1.93 ERA in 11 appearances, but was
traded to Baltimore on June 15th as part of a 9-player trade. Once in
Baltimore, he flourished, becoming a mainstay out of their bullpen for 10
years, including serving as the team's closer in their 1983 World Series
Championship season when he earned the save in Games 3 and 4.
This hard thrower looked to be a sure-thing Yankee star for years to come.
He not only won the award at 19 years-old, but won a spot in the bullpen.
Yankee fans would never see the promise come to fruition in pinstripes. His rookie
season was unsuccessful overall, but showed glimpses of promise.
However, he would be dealt away that winter in the package that brought
Rickey Henderson to the Yankees. He pitched OK for Oakland, still
showing promise for three years, before, sensing they needed a big bat to
take the next step toward dominance, he was dealt to Cincinnati for
Dave Parker. Once in Cincinnati, our mystery man blossomed into one of
the majors' top starters. He came back to hurt the A's, leading the Reds in
the 1990 World Series sweep over Oakland and taking home MVP honors in that
This big, hard-hitting catcher felt he was the best backstop in the Yankees
system. He might have been a mainstay behind the plate had it not been for
a man named Thurman Munson who came up at the same time. He beat out
Thurman Munson for the Dawson award with a torrid spring but the Yankees
moved him to first base, seeing Munson as the superior defensive player.
Unfortunately, a painfully slow start lost him his starting job 7 games into
the season coupled with the fact that Manager Ralph Houk saw him as a
strictly platoon player. He never caught on in a full-time role with the
Yanks and was traded to Cleveland after the 1972 season (with another former
Dawson winner) in the deal that brought Graig Nettles to the Yankees. He
would go on have two good seasons in Cleveland before settling into a bench
role for the next seven seasons with Cleveland and Texas.
The second winner of the Dawson award proved he deserved it, going on to win
the Rookie of the Year award almost unanimously. He also became a
mainstay of the Yankee infield (and sometimes outfield) for nine seasons
with four all-star appearances before retiring at the age of 29. He
immediately jumped into broadcasting where he was a cornerstone of NBC's
Game of the Week until they lost the rights following the 1989 season.
He moved to MSG and teamed with Dewayne Staats to call Yankees games until
the strike in 1994, when he retired from the booth. He might have been canned
eventually, as his outspoken, critical style often rubbed George
Steinbrenner the wrong way. His career was ultimately capped by
earning a place in the Hall of Fame as the Ford Frick Award winner for
broadcasting excellence in 2009.