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Former Oriole Harold Baines: Baseball HOF Election 'Very Special Moment'

December 20, 2018
Maryland native and former Baltimore Orioles designated hitter Harold Baines was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame Dec. 9 along with longtime closer Lee Smith.

Baines, the seventh Marylander to join the Hall, was on Baseball Writers' Association of America ballot for just five of a possible 15 years, but was voted in by the 16-person Today's Game Era Committee.

"It was very special, a very special moment," Baines said on Glenn Clark Radio Dec. 14 regarding receiving the call about his induction. "Very unexpected. It's been overwhelming the last 48 hours. I'm very humbled by it, and I'm trying to enjoy the moment."

The Chicago White Sox selected Baines out of high school with the No. 1 overall pick in 1977. He played 14 of his 22 professional seasons with the team. Baines had three stints in Baltimore: 1993-1995, 1997-1999 and 2000.

"It meant a lot, not too many guys can play in their home state," Baines said of his time with the Orioles. "I'm glad it happened later in my career so a lot of people on the shore could see me play who otherwise wouldn't have if I stayed in Chicago my whole career."

Baines earned six All-Star selections and won the Silver Slugger as a DH in 1989. He led the American League in slugging percentage in 1984. 

Knee injuries forced Baines to serve primarily as a DH during his 22-year career. Much has been made about designated hitters in the Hall of Fame, especially after Edgar Martinez' bid on the writers' ballot fell just short in January. 

Baines is just the second player to reach the Hall who played more than half his games at DH. Fellow White Sox slugger Frank Thomas was the other. Baines retired in 2001 having played 1,643 games at the position, second-most all time behind David Ortiz. 

"Big Papi was a prime example. I don't think Boston would've won any of those World Series without him being there, other than the one they won this year," Baines said. "DH is part of the game, it should be recognized. If the numbers are there, you should be rewarded for it."

Baines said he's aware of the negativity surrounding his induction but hasn't let it bother him, noting that he doesn't worry anything out of his control. 

During his time in Baltimore, Baines saw Cal Ripken Jr. break the record for consecutive games played in 1995 and made a playoff appearance in 1997. Baines batted .364 with a pair of home runs across eight playoff games with Baltimore, but chose Ripken's record as his favorite Orioles memory.

"1995 is history, whenever you can be part of history it's very special," Baines said. "Now I'm in another fraternity with this great Marylander, which is even more special."

Baines was with the team a year after Oriole Park at Camden Yards opened, now widely considered the model for new-age stadiums. Asked whether he realized the beauty of the park at the time, and Baines said yes, with a stipulation. 

"Only if I got hits," Baines said.

A previous version stated that Baines had two stints in Baltimore. It has been updated.

For more from Baines, listen to the full interview here:

Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Baltimore Orioles