You thought Eddie Murray over Mitchell Page, 12 1/2 votes to 9 1/2 for American League rookie of the year, was close?? Andre Dawson, the Montreal center fielder, won the 1977 National League rookie award yesterday over Steve Henderson, his New York Met counterpart, by a 10 to 9 tally.
The 24-member panel of the Baseball Writers Association accorded San Diego swiftly Gene Richards (290,56 SB) four votes and Houston pitcher Floyd Bannister one, by the plurality went for Dawson's 282 bat, 19 homers, 65 RBI and 21 stolen bases.
But fans of the Mets - whose Jerry Koosman lost to Cincinnati's Johnny Bench by one vote for the 1968 rookie prize - can make a good case to the effect that if only Tom Seaver had been traded to the Reds a few weeks sooner than June 15, Henderson might be the man. As it was, he came up to N.Y. from Indianapolis in that deal to hit 297 with 12 HR and 65 RBI in only 353 at-bats to Dawson's 525 ups . . .
Yeah, but Dawson's our kind of guy - he went to bat Saturday at RFK Stadium for baseball's return to D.C. (that could lower his average) . . .
One last plug: you can too by dialing HOME RUN of 751-2622.
If the sophomore, etc. jinx doesn't derail them, Dawson and Henderson could grow up to be just like Oscar Gamble - who yesterday became a Ray Kroc gamble, and got rich. Long-term, big-bucks contract makes lefthanded-hitting Gamble a Richards compadre in the San Diego outfield. Gamble, although already a former Cub, Phillie, Indian, Yankee and White Sox (297, 31 HR, 83 RBI in 77, his only year with Bill Veeck's Chicagos, whom he deserted in the Nov. 4 draft), is only going on 28.
How big those bucks the Padres aren't saying but Gamble's 31 homers edged the 30 by Chisox mate Richie ;very Rich) Zisk, who sources compute got a package averaging $321,000 a year for the 10-year Texas Ranger term he accepted last week. Similar sources peg ex-Twin Larry Hisle's Milwaukee package at $3,155,000 - or $526,000 annually for six years; and knock down, a little, the New York Times' report that new Yankee Rich (Very, Very) Gossage will gross $3.6 million over six years. Only about $27 mil for Gossage (minus agent Jerry Kapstein's cut?). Can't have everybody outearning Reggie Jackson . . .
But don't trade in those tennis rackets yet, kids. Jimmy Connors'$170,000 WCT Challenge Cup triumph last week not only sent him far past his 1976 record of $687,355 but brought his 1977 winnings to $822,656 -barely quadrupling Jimmy Carter's base pay . . . Chris Evert? $503,134 . . .
Come Saturday, Dec. 17, along about 4 p.m. - barring overtime - RFK Stadium will be emptying the Redskins-Rams crowd; across the street in D.C. Armory, the boxing card featuring Sugar Ray Leonard's debut as a full welterweight begins at 5:15 Leonard, expected to weight 145 for his sixth pro fight about 5:45 p.m. for ABC-TV (blacked out here), eight rounds, Ray Leonard vs. Hector (Chinito) Diaz (17-6-3), a Dominican based in New York