Harold Baines Humble In Enjoying His Special Day

The White Sox honored Baines on Sunday for his recent Hall of Fame induction.

Bruce Levine
August 11, 2019 - 3:30 pm
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CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- Harold Baines stayed true to his character as he was honored by the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on Sunday for his recent Hall of Fame induction.

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"Thank you, White Sox fans," Baines said as he started in on a 4-minute, 43-second speech. "Please allow me to thank Jerry Reinsdorf, Howard Pizer and Brooks Boyer as well as the teams entire marketing department."

Baines then shared some advice he received from former White Sox teammate Ron Kittle about dealing with nerves in a Hall of Fame speech.

"He said you were never nervous in the batter's box, so pretend you are up there taking your swings," Baines said, referencing his July 21 induction. "It was good advice except for no pitcher ever asked me to give a speech before I tried to hit against them." 

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Many friends and family members gathered to honor Baines on Sunday. Tony La Russa, Robin Ventura, Greg Walker, Joe Nossek, Roland Hemond, Ron Karkovice, John Cangelosi, Carlton Fisk, Tim Raines, Frank Thomas, Ken "Hawk" Harrelson and Jim Thome were among those on hand for the celebration. 

The White Sox gave Baines and his wife, Marla, a 10-day Mediterranean cruise as a gift. Kittle handcrafted a metal and wooden statue of Baines swinging. 

Of course, there was no uniform to retire Sunday, because the White Sox abruptly did that 30 years ago after trading Baines to the Texas Rangers in a deal that brought Sammy Sosa to Chicago. Reinsdorf and partner Eddie Einhorn decided to retire Baines' No. 3 on his first road trip back to Chicago with his new team. They didn't even tell him of the honor until the day of, and it was an awkward ceremony, to say the least, as only one member of Baines' family was even there.

It took time for Baines to appreciate his jersey retirement.

"I was still pissed I had been traded," Baines said Sunday in looking back . "You really don't get how special it is until you come back all of those times and see your name. I don't know how many people had their number retired while they were still playing. Once you get older, you realize how special that honor is."

Baines was the first overall pick in the 1977 draft by the White Sox, for whom he spent nearly all of his first 10 seasons with. He went on to become a six-time All-Star and finished with 2,866 hits and 1,628 RBIs, one of only 17 players in MLB history to have reached both 2,800 hits and 1,600 RBIs.

Baines was asked about his Hall of Fame induction and what it will be like to be known for that.

"I really don't know, it hasn't really kicked in yet," Baines said. "I am very grateful and very honored. It really hasn't hit me yet."

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine​.