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Harold Baines

Harold Baines

Position(s):
DH, OF, RF, CF, LF
Born:
March 15, 1959
Bats:
Left
Throws:
Left
Height:
6' 2"
Weight:
175 lbs
Major League Debut:
4-10-1980 with CHA
Allstar Selections:
1989 SS

Intro

Harold Baines was one of the most popular players in Chicago White Sox history, spending parts of 14 seasons and three stints with the southsiders. He was scouted personally by Bill Veeck when he was still in Little League, gaining attention with his perfect swing from the left-side of the batters' box. Baines was robbed by work stoppages, missing close to one full season of games due to strikes, which left him 134 hits shy of the magical 3,000 mark. Because of that fact and his more than 1,600 games as a designated hitter, Baines faces an uphill battle toward Cooperstown.

Unform Number

#3 (1980-2001), #13 (1989 Rangers), #33 (1999 Indians)

Quotes About

"Harold was a seventh-, eighth- and ninth-inning player, always coming up with big base hits off tough pitching." — White Sox broadcaster Ken Harrelson "The Sox signed him out of high school and Bill [Veeck] asked me to work with him. I said ‘how much?’ Bill named a figure so I did. Harold was very quiet and if you didn’t know better you’d think he wasn’t taking it in, but he was. It was the first time I ever tried to teach a player and I learned something about myself. I showed him the type of glove to use, how to set up in the outfield for hitters, how to think when he was hitting.. just about everything. Harold was quiet but he always talked to me. He turned out to be a great outfielder with a tremendous arm. He may have been the best player the Sox ever had." — Jimmy Piersall, from an interview with Mark Liptak "Personally, I've never seen a more clutch player. There may have been guys who have hit more home runs, whether it was against left-handed pitchers or right-handed pitchers, or guys who have driven in more runs, or played more games. But I'm talking for my money, there never has been a more clutch player than Harold Baines. Not during my time." — White Sox general manager Ken Williams

Quotes From

"I was taught well in the Minors by Tony La Russa. From the seventh inning on, pitchers shouldn't want to face you because you should try to be a tough out. I never wanted to make the last out of a ballgame, and the true hitters, the consistent players, were the guys who could hit with two outs and men in scoring position."

Replaced By

Baines' last full-time job was as the Indian's DH in 1999. Russell Branyan took that role in 2000, and Baines was on his way back to Chicago.

Best Season

Baines created 121 runs, the highest total of his career. He hit 29 homers, also a career-high. He led the American League with a .541 SLG percentage, the only time he led the league in any positive offensive category.

Factoid 1

Harold Baines' total of 384 career homers is the highest total for a player who never hit 30, with the exception of Hall of Famer Al Kaline (399).

Factoid 2

The White Sox' Harold Baines clubbed the home run that ended the longest game ever played in MLB history, on May 9, 1984, against Milwaukee. The contest, played over two days, lasted 25 innings and more than eight hours.

Transition

June 7, 1977: Drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 1st round (1st pick) of the 1977 amateur draft. July 29, 1989: Traded by the Chicago White Sox with Fred Manrique to the Texas Rangers for Scott Fletcher, Sammy Sosa, and Wilson Alvarez. August 29, 1990: Traded by the Texas Rangers to the Oakland Athletics for players to be named later. The Oakland Athletics sent Joe Bitker (September 4, 1990) and Scott Chiamparino (September 4, 1990) to the Texas Rangers to complete the trade. January 14, 1993: Traded by the Oakland Athletics to the Baltimore Orioles for Bobby Chouinard and Allen Plaster (minors). November 1, 1993: Granted Free Agency. December 2, 1993: Signed as a Free Agent with the Baltimore Orioles. October 20, 1994: Granted Free Agency. December 23, 1994: Signed as a Free Agent with the Baltimore Orioles. November 6, 1995: Granted Free Agency. December 11, 1995: Signed as a Free Agent with the Chicago White Sox. November 18, 1996: Granted Free Agency. January 10, 1997: Signed as a Free Agent with the Chicago White Sox. July 29, 1997: Traded by the Chicago White Sox to the Baltimore Orioles for a player to be named later. The Baltimore Orioles sent Juan Bautista (minors) (August 18, 1997) to the Chicago White Sox to complete the trade. October 29, 1997: Granted Free Agency. December 19, 1997: Signed as a Free Agent with the Baltimore Orioles. August 27, 1999: Traded by the Baltimore Orioles to the Cleveland Indians for a player to be named later and Juan Aracena (minors). The Cleveland Indians sent Jimmy Hamilton (minors) (August 31, 1999) to the Baltimore Orioles to complete the trade. October 29, 1999: Granted Free Agency. December 9, 1999: Signed as a Free Agent with the Baltimore Orioles. July 29, 2000: Traded by the Baltimore Orioles with Charles Johnson to the Chicago White Sox for Brook Fordyce, Jason Lakman (minors), Juan Figueroa (minors), and Miguel Felix (minors). November 3, 2000: Granted Free Agency. January 8, 2001: Signed as a Free Agent with the Chicago White Sox. November 6, 2001: Granted Free Agency. "What really has bothered me for a long time is that if we hadn't traded him, he would have his 3,000 hits, and he would be a lock for the Hall of Fame," said White Sox president Jerry Reinsdorf, who oversaw Baines' trade to Texas on July 29, 1989, and to Baltimore on July 29, 1997. "We traded him twice - and into bad situations where he was a platoon player. "If he stayed with us, he would have gone over 3,000 hits. If he doesn't get in [to the Hall of Fame], it would really bug me. I talk to him about it, and he just shrugs it off."

Weaknesses

Speed. Baines was one of the slowest players of his generation, due in large part to several knee injuries.

Feats

In June of 1987, Baines drove in 36 runs, setting a White Sox team record for RBI in a single month.

Description

Baines was 6' 2" and weighed from 185 to 200 pounds over the course of his long career. As a young player he was a right fielder with little range and a below-average arm. His long legs allowed him to stride his way gracefully around the bases early in his career, but by the age of 26 he was already experiencing the onset of knee problems that plagued his entire career. By the time he was 30 he was considered the slowest baserunner in the league, and he only avoided 35-40 double plays a year because he uppercut the ball. He had one of the smoothest swings in the game, drawing comparisons to Billy Williams and Ted Williams. He had very good power but he sprayed the ball down the left field line as well, especially early in his career. He was able to make good contact despite his long swing, never striking out more than 80 times after his 31st birthday. He had average patience at the plate, walking 45-70 times per. Baines played just 64 games in the field from 1989-2001, making him the longest running DH in baseball history. That, and the fact that he never had a monster season or led his league in any major categories, will hurt his chances at the Hall of Fame. Had he been able to stay off the disabled list here and there with knee injuries, or if players' strikes hadn't cost him 100+ games, he may have been able to reach the 3,000-hit and 400-home run level and solidify his Cooperstown credentials.

Most Walk-Off Home Runs, Career

Jimmie Foxx........12 Mickey Mantle......12 Stan Musial........12 Frank Robinson.....12 Babe Ruth..........12 Tony Perez.........11 Dick Allen.........10 Harold Baines......10 Reggie Jackson.....10 Mike Schmidt.......10 Source: David Vincent and RetroSheet.org

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