Whether it be Charlie Hough, Tim Raines or Ichiro Suzuki, the Florida/Miami Marlins have had a number of former All-Stars spend parts of their 40s playing in their organization. One of the most notable is now Hall of Fame outfielder Andre Dawson.
A shell of his former self, Dawson spent his final two seasons with the Marlins. On this day 25 years ago, “The Hawk” did something only 10 players before him had: hit his 400th National League home run.
The Florida Marlins were just 14-31 as they arrived at Veterans Stadium on June 16, 1995 to take on the Philadelphia Phillies in the opener of a three-game set. Dawson’s memorable blast would be the decisive hit as Florida topped Philadelphia, 2-1.
Dawson began the season as a reserve, but had assumed the role of an everyday outfielder following an early-season injury to Gary Sheffield. After striking out in his first at-bat, Dawson stepped to the plate in the top of the fourth and made history.
Jeff Conine had homered to start the inning off David West. With two outs and none on, Dawson followed suit with an opposite-field shot to right field.
The blast not only gave Florida a 2-0, but it made Dawson just the 11th player to hit 400 National League homers. Dawson had hit 399 as a member of the Montreal Expos and Chicago Cubs. He joined Major League Baseball’s 400-home run club as a member of the Boston Red Sox in 1993, but his 400th in the NL came two years later.
The two runs would be all that the Marlins would need. Philadelphia pushed across its only run in the bottom of the eighth on an RBI single by Jim Eisenreich. Florida closer Robb Nen was able to work out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam to keep the lead intact before working a perfect ninth.
Both teams finished with just six hits, but the two big ones came off the bats of Conine and Dawson. Pat Rapp allowed just a run on five hits and six walks to earn the victory for the Marlins. West took the loss for Philadelphia.
In two seasons with the Marlins, Dawson hit just 10 home runs. The first and most significant of them all came on this day a quarter-century ago.