Hall of Fame election for Baines draws criticism - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Hall of Fame election for Baines draws criticism

Photo credit: Mark Goldman - Icon Sportswire

LAS VEGAS—The selection of Harold Baines to the Hall of Fame has been met with criticism from some close observers of the process. Even a number of Oriole fans have expressed surprise.

Baines’ entry has fans wondering about the absence of former players such as Mike Mussina, Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens.

Baines and Lee Smith, another former Oriole, were elected by the Today’s Game Era committee, one of three committees the Hall of Fame has set up to consider players and executives passed over by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Mussina, who won 270 games for the Orioles and Yankees, might be elected next month. If not then, he’s at most a year or two away from Cooperstown. Bonds, who hit 762 home runs, and Clemens, who won 354 games, are another issue, but their fate is still up to the BBWAA.

Baines, who never got more than 6.1 percent of the vote in five elections by the BBWAA, and Smith, who did get more than 50 percent of the vote in 15 elections, were picked by a committee of 16 electors, selected by the Hall of Fame.

In both BBWAA and Veterans committee elections, a candidate must receive 75 percent of the vote. Smith, who played for the Orioles in 1994 and was a superb relief pitcher for the Cubs and Cardinals, was on the ballot of all 16 committee members. Baines, whose career was mostly spent with the White Sox as a designated hitter, was on 12.

Ten-year members of the BBWAA get a vote for the Hall of Fame. The makeup of the Veterans committees is more diverse.

Hall of Fame players Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven, Greg Maddux, Joe Morgan and Ozzie Smith were voters. So were Hall of Fame managers Tony La Russa and Joe Torre as well as executives, including former Orioles general managers Pat Gillick and Andy MacPhail. Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf was also a member.

Elias Sports Bureau executive Steve Hirdt and BBWAA members Tim Kurkjian and Claire Smith are also on the committee.


Baines was presumably helped by the presence of La Russa and Reinsdorf. He played 14 season with the White Sox. Gillick was also the Orioles’ GM for two of the seven seasons Baines was in Baltimore.

Supporters of Baines point out his 2,866 hits, which rank 46th in baseball history, more than Brooks Robinson, Ken Griffey, Tony Perez and Chipper Jones, Hall of Famers all.

He was a member of six postseason teams, and had 384 home runs. Baines played in the steroid era and was never implicated.

Baines was a designated hitter for most of his career, and that didn’t help him in the BBWAA. He didn’t start a game in the field for the last 10 seasons of his career.

His Wins Above Replacement (WAR) was 38.7, far below almost all Hall of Famers.

More relevant than comparing Baines’ case with Mussina, Bonds or Clemens, is looking at his stats against his contemporaries who haven’t been elected, including outfielder Dwight Evans, another former Oriole whose best years were with the Red Sox, and Dale Murphy, who played center field for the Braves.

Evans, who had a WAR of 67.1 and never received more than 10.1 percent of the vote in three BBWAA elections, and Murphy, who won two MVP awards but never cracked a quarter of the BBWAA vote, could be considered a year from now in the Modern Baseball committee election at the Winter Meetings.

Murphy came up short in last year’s Modern Baseball committee election.

While some might question Baines’ Hall of Fame credentials, he will receive a warm welcome from White Sox and Orioles fans who appreciated his bat and professionalism.

His selection is likely to prompt the Hall of Fame to re-examine its Veterans committee election procedures.

Lunch with Givens and Mancini?

Oriole experiences are among the items available for bids during the Winter Meetings Charity Auction, which will run until Thursday at 10 p.m.

Fans can bid on lunch for two with Mychal Givens and Trey Mancini before a home night game at a local restaurant. The winner will also receive two tickets to that night’s game, a parking pass, access to the manager’s pregame press conference and two batting practice field passes.

One fan can join the Orioles’ grounds crew for a night game, assisting head groundskeeper Nicole Sherry. The winner must be at least 16. Four tickets to the game, a parking pass and a grounds crew polo shirt will be provided.

Four fans can bid on a behind-the-scenes experience, which might include watching the manager’s pregame press conference, watching batting practice from the field, visiting the press box, the MASN television booth, the radio booth, the MASN production truck, the Orioles’ scoreboard production room and watching an inning with Executive Vice President and General Manager Mike Elias.

For an opportunity to bid, visit mlb.com/wintermeetingsauction.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB



  1. BirdsCaps

    December 10, 2018 at 1:55 pm

    Not that I would be bidding anyway, but none of these experiences have a wow factor. Mancini and Givens are(right now) only upper-middle of the road players. We don’t know who the manager will be. The most interesting experience would probably be the inning with Elias. With a team full of no names (except players like Givens and Mancini) I wonder if there will be jerseys an t shirts with Elias and Mejdal on the back, because right now they are some of the biggest names the birds have.

  2. garyintheloo

    December 10, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    Baines was definitely a surprise for me this morning but to be honest, without Buck O’Neill or Marvin Miller getting in from from the veterna’s committee, this seems like a farce. What about the Crime Dog? Since I wouldn’t vote anyone out who is in the Hall of Fame, congratulations.

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 10, 2018 at 3:37 pm

      Gary, I agree with you about Marvin Miller, but with so many members of management on the committee, it seems unlikely he’ll get in. Buck O’Neill’s contributions also merit enshrinement, I think.

      As for McGriff, he’s in his final year of eligibility, and has never cracked 25 percent. It will be interesting to see if there’s a last-year rush for him. He seems as if he’ll be a good candidate for Today’s Game in the next few years. My guess is he gets in that way.

    • whiterose

      December 10, 2018 at 4:16 pm

      I would definitely vote out some HOF members.

  3. whiterose

    December 10, 2018 at 4:14 pm

    trying to post again!

    I love Harold Baines and he can play on my team anytime. But this in an embarrassment to baseball and the Hall.
    I believe he will list many more qualified players in his speech. I dont like the “if he is in so and so should be too” mentality. That just makes the watering down of the Hall worse.

    Buck O’Neill NOT being in is even more unjust.

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 10, 2018 at 5:50 pm

      Whiterose, I don’t think Baines being in the Hall of Fame is an embarrassment, but I can think of many others I would put in ahead of him. I agree with you on Buck O’Neill.

      • whiterose

        December 10, 2018 at 8:57 pm

        I have been “talking” to Steve C about long running issues with the app.
        But you may be able to explain why this article has different titles on app than web site. Even some different wording.
        Second paragraph on web starts “Baines entry has fans wondering”.
        On App it starts “Baines qualifications have been questioned”

  4. cedar

    December 10, 2018 at 4:23 pm

    The Hall of Fame will always be subjective and it’s one of the things that makes it great. We can agree to disagree about Baines’ place in the Hall. For me, he was at the beginning of redefining the DH role. Without him playing effectively so long at DH, do we see an Edgar Martinez? Does Nelson Cruz get the opportunity to have the last stellar years he has had? Sometimes it’s more than just numbers but the impact a player had on the game. To me, Harold Baines is one of those guys.

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 10, 2018 at 5:52 pm

      Cedar, I think both Martinez and Cruz were outstanding DH’s, far better than Baines, who was a very fine player. His 2,866 hits and his longevity were his qualifications.

    • jkneps63

      December 10, 2018 at 6:05 pm

      Well written cedar, thank you for sharing that perspective, I appreciate it!

  5. TxBirdFan

    December 10, 2018 at 4:58 pm

    Back in the day – I always wanted Baines to be up at bat when we needed a hit – but that’s because the teams he played on weren’t filled with outstanding players. It’s astounding to me that he gets in the HOF despite never getting more than 5% of the votes from the BBWA. Something’s wrong in Mudville when this is allowed to happen. Definitely an embarrassment.

  6. Bancells Moustache

    December 10, 2018 at 5:37 pm

    Jeez, talk about nice guys finish last. Baines, who played 22 solid years and carried himself as a model professional throughout, is now “an embarrassment to baseball”? I’ll admit the selection is surprising, but people making it out like it’s the fall of the Republic are being a bit over dramatic here. What happened to just being happy for people?

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 10, 2018 at 11:47 pm

      Bancells, I agree with you.

  7. jkneps63

    December 10, 2018 at 6:07 pm

    Things I did not know about Harold Baines:

    “The old-school stats that seemingly got Baines through the “Today’s Game Era” committee were RBIs (34th all time with 1,628) and total bases (43rd with 4,604). Baines played 22 years and finished with 9,908 at-bats, which ranks 33rd all time.”

    Congrats to Baines being elected to the Hall of Fame! He always seemed like a high-quality player and classy person IMHO, so congrats!

    • whiterose

      December 11, 2018 at 8:33 pm

      Classic Accumulator


    December 11, 2018 at 11:47 am

    Where did this Todays Game Era committee come from? I had never heard of it before last year. Rather than pick apart Harold Baines, I question this committee.
    I am concerned that having three committees is going to water down the Hall of Fame.
    There are quite a few Hall of Famers who have questionable credentials. That is part of the process. To me, Ron Santo and Bill Mazeroski surprised me.
    I think the character of Harold Baines pushed him over the top. He was a professional and a credit to the game.
    That is why he is a Hall of Famer and Bonds and Clemens aren’t. They were cheaters and liars.

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