Wednesday, February 15, 2012

DAHOF Top 100 -- #46 Harold Baines

Few players in baseball history have combined the longevity, consistency, and anonymity of Harold Baines. During his 22 year major league career he was one of the most productive batters that no one ever heard of. Every eligible player with more career hits and RBIs is currently enshrined in the Hall of Fame. His Top 10 similarity score peers include Hall of Famers: Tony Perez, Al Kaline, Billy Williams, Andre Dawson, and Jim Rice

Harold serves as a direct connection to the second Bill Veeck ownership era of 1976-1980. Legend has it Bill Veeck lived ten miles away from Baines on Maryland's eastern shore. Veeck claimed he originally scouted him when he was a 12-year old Little Leaguer. When the Sox drafted him with first pick in the June 1977 draft, GM Paul Richards said Baines "was on his way to the Hall of Fame. He just stopped by Comiskey Park for 20 years or so."

He hasn't found his way to Cooperstown (yet) but Harold is the all-time leader for designated hitters in career hits, homers, and RBIs and one of the greatest players in the history of the Chicago White Sox. A six time American League All Star, Baines recorded double-digit homers for every season from 1980 to 1997.

I will always most remember him as a key member of the 1983 "Winning Ugly" Sox that lost the ALCS to the eventual World Champion Orioles. He went on to became the team's all time HR leader (since broken) and the face of the franchise. As a Sox fan it was painful to see Harold in the uniform of the Texas Rangers in a 1989 trade, but when he returned to Comiskey Park on August 20 the White Sox retired his #3 (Phil Niekro and Frank Robinson are the only other players to have their uniform numbers retired while still active).


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