Harold Baines was one of the most complete players during his time with the White Sox. When his knees went bad he made the transition to DH and made a solid career of being a DH which is why he is being saluted today.
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), 4th in 3-home run games (3), and tied for 7th in major league history in walk-off home runs (10). 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 1987until 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. He also led the Major Leagues in hits as a DH (1,688) until the mark was surpassed by David Ortiz on July 10, 2013. With 1,628 RBI, Baines has the most RBI of any non-steroid era player eligible for the Hall of Fame not currently inducted.
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 runthat 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.” Baines ended the longest game in major league history (eight hours and six minutes over 25 inningson 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.
Baines holds the record for the most seasons by a player between 100 runs batted in, with 14 seasons between 113 RBIs for Chicago in 1985 and 103 for Baltimore and Cleveland in 1999.
Smallthoughts:Old School Tuesday salutes… Harold Baines