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Harold Baines

 

  thumbnail8  Harold Baines

 

Harold Douglas Baines (born March 15, 1959 in Easton, Maryland) is a former right fielder and designated hitter in Major League Baseball who played for five American League teams from 1980 to 2001. He is best known for his three stints with the Chicago White Sox, the team on which he now serves as coach. He ranked 7th in AL history in games played (2,830) and 10th in runs batted in (1,628) upon his retirement. Noted as well for his power hitting in clutch situations, he is tied for 7th in AL history in grand slams (13),[1] 4th in 3-home run games (3),[2] and tied for 7th in major league history in walk-off home runs (10).[1] Baines batted over .300 eight times and hit .324 in 31 career postseason games, topping the .350 mark in five separate series. A six-time All-Star, he led the AL in slugging average in 1984. He held the White Sox team record for career home runs from 1987 until Carlton Fisk passed him in 1990; his eventual total of 221 remains the club record for left-handed hitters, as do his 981 RBI and 585 extra base hits with the team. His 1,652 games as a designated hitter are a major league record, and he held the mark for career home runs as a DH (236) until Edgar Martínez passed him in 2004. With 1,628 RBI, Baines has the most RBI of any player eligible for the Hall of Fame not currently inducted

Early years

Baines graduated in 1977 from St. Michaels High School on Maryland's Eastern Shore where, as a senior, he batted .532 and was named a High School All-American.[3] A month later, the White Sox made Baines the first selection in the amateur draft. The owner of the White Sox at the time, Bill Veeck, had spotted Baines playing Little League ball many years before at the age of 12.

Professional career

In 1980, Baines became a regular outfielder on the White Sox, and he began to produce in 1982 when he had 165 hits, 25 home runs and 105 RBI. In 1984, baseball writer Bill James called Baines his favorite opposing player to watch, saying, "He is gorgeous, absolutely complete. I've seen him drop down bunts that would melt in your mouth, come up the next time and execute a hit and run that comes straight off the chalkboard. I've seen him hit fastballs out of the yard on a line, and I've seen him get under a high curve and loft it just over the fence."[4] Baines ended the longest game in major league history (eight hours and six minutes over 25 innings on successive evenings) with a home run against the Milwaukee Brewers' Chuck Porter on May 8, 1984; the bat he used is currently kept at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

In 1986, a succession of knee problems began which gradually ended his fielding career, forcing him to become a regular designated hitter. Despite the knee ailments and the resulting lack of speed, he remained a powerful hitter, picking up 166 hits in 1988.

Trades

Harold Baines's number 3 was retired by the Chicago White Sox in 1989.

Midway through the 1989 season, the Texas Rangers acquired Baines, along with Fred Manrique, from the White Sox in a much-derided trade which sent Wilson Alvarez, Scott Fletcher and Sammy Sosa to Chicago. After the trade the White Sox retired Baines' #3, a rare occurrence for a player who was still active in the major leagues (the number would be "un-retired" each time Baines returned to the White Sox, and he currently wears it as a coach).

In 1990 Baines was traded to the Oakland Athletics for minor league pitchers Scott Chiamparino and Joe Bitker, and he helped them reach the post-season only to be swept by the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series. In 1992 the Athletics returned to the playoffs, only to lose to the Toronto Blue Jays in the AL Championship Series.[5]

Prior to the 1993 season, Baines was traded by the A's to the Baltimore Orioles for minor league pitchers Bobby Chouinard and Allen Plaster. Baines batted .313, .294 and .299 over his three seasons with Baltimore. He returned to the White Sox as a free agent in 1996 but was traded back to Baltimore midway through the 1997 season; he helped the Orioles to reach the playoffs, losing to the Cleveland Indians in the League Championship Series.

His final contract with the White Sox was not renewed following the 2001 season, after his third stint with the team. He finished his career with 2,866 hits, 384 home runs and 1,628 RBIs. His career RBI total is 23rd all-time; his hit total ranks 37th all-time.

Back to the Sox

Baines' fourth stint with the Chicago White Sox began when he was named bench coach in March 2004 under new manager Ozzie Guillén, his White Sox teammate, from 1985 to 1989 and in 1996–97.

In 2005, as a coach for the White Sox, he finally earned a World Series ring.

On July 20, 2008, the White Sox unveiled a bronze statue of Baines at U.S. Cellular Field prior to their game against the Kansas City Royals; it is the seventh statue featured on the park's outfield concourse.[6][7]

Orioles Legacy

In August 2009 the Orioles announced that Baines would be inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame as the 46th member. In his seven seasons with the Orioles he batted .301, had 107 home runs, and 378 RBIs as their designated hitter.

Personal life

Baines' hometown of St. Michaels has designated January 9 as Harold Baines Day. He has also created the Harold Baines Scholarship Fund to help deserving college-bound students.[8]

Baines is married to Marla Henry and has four children: Toni, Britni, Harold, Jr., and Courtney. Harold Jr plays baseball for the Bristol White Sox in the Appalachian League. All attended Baines' alma mater, St. Michaels Middle/High School.[9]

Hall of Fame candidacy

Baines had been eligible for the National Baseball Hall of Fame beginning with the 2007 election. While 75% of the vote is needed for induction, he never received greater than 6.1% (which he received in 2010).[10] On January 5, 2011, Baines received just 28 votes (4.8%) in the 2011 Hall of Fame election, dropping him off all future Hall of Fame ballots by receiving less than 5.0% of the vote

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