COOPERSTOWN, NJ. – With a calm demeanor, a modest attitude, and an artisanal approach to his craft, Harold Baines never seemed like a man of his time, but long before. Ultimately, all these qualities make Cooperstown the perfect place to perpetuate his baseball career.
Baines is a Hemingway hero who walks among us. He is indeed calm and, as he is going to admit, shy. But as a man with few words, his message has meaning when he speaks. His work habits as a professional hitter produced the consistency that characterized him. He is a man who lives by values that have been shaped by his community and his family since his birth. And like Robert Jordan and Frederic Henry of Hemingway, he keeps his feelings close to the vest.
"I'm not an emotional man, except when it comes to the family," Baines said during his speech on Sunday, when he and Five others were anchored in the spiritual home of baseball. He said these words just before his voice broke because he was about to speak from his father and then directly to his family on the seats.
On Sunday, this simple man from a small town on the east coast of Maryland received the highest honor in his career in 201
It was a weekend for townspeople, some of whom pointed out the essential roles of family and community in their rise to baseball's highest honor. It was a weekend for the specialists who have become an integral part of the modern game. Strangely, it was a weekend for Norman Rockwell. It was a weekend of internationalism, now an annual introductory weekend where fans from all four parts of the nation and beyond flocked to Cooperstown.
Above all, it was a weekend of celebrating everything that's good in the US game, and all of that is good about the men whose plaques are now hanging from baseball in the hallowed halls of the Hall of Fame. And, yes, Harold Baines is an example of what Cooperstown is all about, whether you wanted it there or not.
A Bad Reaction
To fully appreciate Baines & # 39; s weekend, you must remember the long road that led him to Cooperstown, one that seemed to be permanently closed. When Baines was selected as a newcomer last December by a veterans committee that included a manager (Tony LaRussa) and an owner (Jerry Reinsdorf) who both adored him, there was a flood of jobs in the baseball stores from social media and the internet.
Not all of Lee Smith's choices were on board, but most of the vitriol was aimed at Baines. The reactions used sharp words, saying that the hall was "cheapened" or "diminished" by the addition of him. The tenor of the answer was vicious and led to strange moments.
"I think you have to ask [LaRussa and Reinsdorf]," Baines said at the winter gathering. "You know what I feel about them, they're special to me, to be honest, it probably helped, but our friendship goes beyond baseball."
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A convincing analytical argument for selecting Baines can only be made if one is prepared to open the doors wide and allow the locks to accommodate many good players which were passed over in the past elections. He is not the worst Hall of Fame candidate for most of the leading metrics, but he is in the lower class. The defense of his selection has tended to favor anecdote evidence and cherries-picked numbers.
There are many players on Baines & # 39; s level of performance or better who never came in. Never come closer. And if Baines had not been selected, it would not have earned more than a passing mention in any story on the subject. But all the negativity that emerged from Baines' selection obscures one essential thing: He was really good, and so were all those players who might fall somewhere under the arbitrary line that marks Hall's worth, and where it is always that Baines lives.
"I was very surprised," Baines admitted. "I was not worried at home because it was not something I could control, I do not think any player plays this game to go to the Hall of Fame, so I am very grateful."
That's not the Hall of Good, a fact critics like to point out. If you want to be tough, you can point out that the special thing about the Hall of Fame is that you are in the Hall of Fame as soon as you are there. Discuss until you are blue in the face. Nobody ever got kicked out.
More cautious, one might think that there is a reason why those who supported Baines felt so strong, why they champion a player who would never have recruited for himself in a million years. However flawed his track record may be in the Hall of Fame markers, Baines is rich in qualities that are highly valued by men in power and frankly admired by us as a society. You can not express it in metrics, and you can argue that these traits do not make a player a Hall of Famer, but you can not deny that these traits landed him in Cooperstown on Sunday.] People will continue to use the Baines Selecting choices and others they disagree with. Books are written about it. There is already a virtual buffet on the Internet with lists that deal with "worst Hall of Fame selections". Most of them ignore the fact that in the Hall of Fame there really is not a bad player. We should all be so bad.
However, the pairing of Smith and Baines on that day in December and later through a series of promotional events in Chicago proved ideal.
"The weird thing is, when we both got the call and went to Vegas, which [Hall representative] said it was the best contrast of the guys," Smith said. "He said: 'We can not get Harold to say anything and you will not be quiet.'
A Few Hours East of Cooperstown is a small Massachusetts town called Stockbridge. It is a resort in the Berkshires known as the last home and workplace of the famous artist Rockwell. (It's also known, albeit less than, the scene of Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant.")
Rockwell's paintings adorned the cover pages of the Saturday Evening Post for decades as this publication had a tremendous impact on national culture. Rockwell painted stories, caught in a picture, of ordinary people doing ordinary things, but with such seriousness that the work still creates an unrealistic kind of nostalgia for many people, reminding of a world that never really existed ,
Cooperstown In its own way, it plays a similar role in American culture. In the Hall of Fame are three works by Rockwell, including " The Three Umpires", which currently hangs in the museum's art gallery. Rockwell busied himself with baseball, which was hard to avoid, considering who paid for his work and the grade he expected for all those covers.
Rockwell's name is often referred to when describing Cooperstown as a typical 1950s-style postcard town. In fact, the New York Times quoted Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman on the morning of the launch as saying, "It has the feel of a Norman Rockwell to me." that Cooperstown, at least on the introductory weekend, is a kind of fantasy. As a commercial artist, Rockwell sold fantasy and did better than almost anyone else. But there were many people Rockwell did not portray in his best-known work, mainly because his clients had asked him to. This changed later when his career ended as a Saturday Evening Post. But the works of Americana that evoke so much reverence and nostalgia are great by nature.
The Hall of Fame is like that. The panels hanging in the gallery tell of the deeds of men who, as humans, were anything but perfect. They let numbers get out of context. They make everyone sound as if they had gone straight from the pages of a book of mythology. This is the product that sells the hall, perhaps best exemplified by the Saturday Parade, where all returning Hall of Famers drive down the main street between rows of adorable fans trapped on the sidewalks with impenetrable barricades.
Baines Plakette reads as such : "The respected and committed left-hander, whose professional approach and modest demeanor have made him one of the most consistent and reliable players of the 1980s and 1990s." He then listed some of his accolades and statistical achievements, including his 2,866 hits and 1,628 RBIs, most of which were put together, as one of the game's most prolific proven players, a role he got due to chronic knee problems.
"In my case, I could not go [out onto the field for defense]," Baines said. "Because of my injuries, that made it a bit easier at the beginning to focus on my role, and I could not help the team on the defensive, which made it a bit easier for me – that's the only way I could help." team. Remember
Remember how Rockwell paints Baines on the plate, he had a certain flair for Chicago issues, and the fans around him would get angry, sneer and spin and laugh and scream, the catcher would smile wryly But Baines would stand there, his forefoot raised, as he always did when he wanted to unleash his beautiful swing, and the expression on his face would be a total stubbornness.
"Harold, on his own Wise, he does his point, "said sociable new Hall of Famer Smith." He upset me a bit because I talked too much. "
No, it was not just Baines who made a perfect subject for Rockwell in this class.
Overlook as usual
At the Hall of Fame Museum, they exhibit exhibits each year featuring artifacts from the careers of each of the new initiates. Baines' display features a 1983 White Sox jersey, a pair of small medallions he won as Designated Hitter of the Year – an award now named after Edgar Martinez, with whom Baines shared the stage Sunday , And there was an old edition of Baseball Digest with a picture of Baines on the cover and the headline "One of the most overlooked stars of baseball".
Baines was not written often because he was not citable. It was his choice. The most repeated story of the weekend was that Baines met the winner of an epic game in bad weather. Then he was asked about the conditions and how he must have hit the ball really hard. "Obviously," Baines said. And that was the media conference. It also became a sort of nickname for him, and last week the White Sox announced the availability of some new Baines wobbly heads that mark its anchorage. You will have the quote in one word: "Obviously."
"During my career, I've earned the reputation of being someone who did not say much," joked Baines during his speech on Sunday. "I'm not sure why."
He is very similar to Hemingway's writing and Rockwell may have painted it, though the portrait would not have left any of the supporting characters with raw outbursts of emotion. Baines comes from the small tourist town of St. Michaels in Maryland and still lives there. There lived his father, Linwood Baines Jr., a bricklayer who himself was a good athlete, from the ninth year of his life until his death in 2014 at the age of 77 years.
Baines was invited to visit the hall earlier this year as all candidates are. You see relics from baseball history and her own career. They see the places where their plaques are hung and they sign the back. It was reported that Baines became a little foggy when it was thought that his plaque would be about 20 feet from Babe Ruth's. However, when asked if he was looking for a special attraction during his visit, he simply said, "No."
But then he continued, "My idol is my dad Hall of Famers, but there is my dad."
Linwood Baines Jr. lived a long life and saw his son become one became the most respected member of his profession. He had to see how he got all those hits and RBIs, and an OPS of .820 career, which rose to .838, with runners in the scoring position and .862 in the high-leverage spots. He had to see how he challenged the 3,000-hit milestone he would surely have received without the injuries and labor disputes during his career. In 31 postseason games, he hit 5 homers and 16 RBIs on .324 with .888 OPS.
But for Harold it's all sidebar. It was very important that his father saw him marry and start his own family. He had to see that he remained part of the St. Michaels community and became the man he should be.
"I know I made him proud on the baseball field," Baines said. "But I know that I have made him more proud than the husband, husband, father, team-mate and friend to whom I have become."
Anything change your mind about whether Baines belongs in Cooperstown? Should it? Of course not. But can you really sit there and say that the presence of this man "cheapened" the institution? A pity, Bucko, because this door swings in one direction only.
The scenes are always the same, even though the MLB merchandise they wear each year transforms with the identities of those who are inducted into the hall. This year, the novelty shops were full of Mariano Rivera equipment. Baines was also represented, although one had to dig for his belongings. The shopkeepers know every year who smeared their bread most of all.
In addition to the exclusive accommodations at The Otesaga Resort Hotel, there are always former Major Leaguers. This year, Bill Madlock signed at a table near the driveway of Doubleday Field. Both Frank Thomases were present – the Big Hurt as the Hall of Famer at the resort and the original that mashed for the pirates in the 1950s and played for the early miserable Mets. Denny McLain was back, as was Pete Rose. Jim Leyritz held court down the street from wrestling Jimmy's "The Mouth of the South" Hart. The actor who played John Kinsella in "Field of Dreams" set up a table on the corner of Main and Pioneer and seemed to draw very well.
As fun as watching people and players in Cooperstown is, it's still all coming to the ceremony on Sunday. These are the moments that will always be remembered and remembered in the future and repeated when a Hall of Famer is mentioned. For Baines, it has been a matter of great concern in recent months.
"I played in front of thousands of people so I could handle that part of it," Baines said the day before the ceremony. "I'm a shy guy, so I do not like to talk, so this is going to be a difficult thing, but I'm talking about people who are important to me, that should be a bit easier."
Roy Halladay's Ms. Brandy thanks many for "unconditional and continued support" during Roy's career when he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Roy Halladay's absence was felt. Starting with a very emotional video that featured his career and showed close friend Chris Carpenter. One person who did not see it was Hallad's widow Brandy, who made the speech. Knowing she had to be on the podium in a few minutes, she just could not stand watching.
"Maybe someone can send it to me," she joked at the beginning of her speech of about seven minutes. In the crowd, people were wiping away tears, and many others were battling lumps in her throat. Brandy Halladay, of course, became emotional, but held it together. And more than once, she alluded to the whole Hall of Famers sitting on stage next to her, and told how much they had supported everyone. Roy is now an immortal in sports, and the Halladayers have found another new baseball family.
"I can not tell you how many hugs I got," she said. "Anyone who thinks baseball is not a family has never been involved in baseball."
It was a heroic feat, and in a rather surprising turn, Brandy Halladay did more than anyone else to humanize the players in Cooperstown Raised to the status of a legend.
"The message I wanted to convey," Brandy said later, "is that Roy was a normal person with an exceptionally great job, these men who do these great things out there, they are still real people they still have feelings, they still have families, they're still fighting.
"So many of the guys I've known through baseball in my life are working so hard to hide it. I know Roy did it. Sometimes it is difficult to present the image that you know everyone wants to see. It's also difficult to judge what people expect from you. I think it's important that we do not sensitize or idealize what baseball players are. "
Roy Halladay came from a suburb of Denver, and Baines lives in the tiny St. Michael's." Lee Smith is from Castle, Louisiana, of whom He joked, "You think Cooperstown is small, you were still never in Castle. "Mariano Rivera hails from Puerto Caimito, Panama, a small fishing village near Panama City, where he worked on his father's boat.Martinez is from Dorado, Puerto Rico, a large community west of San Juan, lived in Close to Maguayo, Mike Mussina is from Williamsport, Pennsylvania – home of the Little League World Series.
The Hall of Famers can really come from anywhere, and despite all the considerations of which team to put a new Hall of Famer in with its cap – no problem for the two new team members, Rivera and Martinez – the players represent so much more as Das. Si e represent colleges, cities, regions, countries and families.
"From teachers to trainers to city dwellers who have shown me kindness and discipline, I thank you for everything you've done for me," Baines said during his speech. He later added, "I never appreciate St. Michaels enough, it's still my home when I live there with my wife and family."
Never is this feeling more obvious and true than it is every summer in Cooperstown. And on these points, Smith and Baines and the others help the community, in which they will, in a sense, now live forever. Every street between Main Street and the Sports Complex in Cooperstown is lined with lemonade stalls, drink stalls, and tables for barbecued food. Most of this benefits students who live in Cooperstown all year round.
As for the speeches, no one could compete with Brandy Halladay for bravery and emotional implications. One of her first lines was: "This speech is not mine." But she still has it and nobody will forget it.
"Really a great woman," Smith said. "It was great to meet her and her sons, it had to be tough, it's amazing how she dealt with it."
Without the bittersweet circumstances of the Halladay family, we could celebrate the bravery of Baines. Here was a shy man who had spent his life under the spotlight of the media, who did not like and was not afraid of anything except public speeches. Imagine being that person and stepping onto a stage where thousands of people are standing in front of you and countless others are being trained on television or other device.
After the joke, Baines spoke for a good nine and a half minutes that the other players had timed him, because they had bet on how short his speech would be. But it was not so short because he did not speak of himself. There were a lot of people to thank and appreciate, both in the game and outside, though Baines is a man of action rather than speeches.
"I thought it was much harder than it was," Baines said after his speech. "Especially toward the end, when I talked about my dad, I got along pretty well and was proud of myself, starting my speech about the community, which is very big for me."
All players sounded as Sunday, as always. For every player entering the Hall of Fame, there is a vast network of parents, siblings, coaches, spouses, managers, teammates and predecessors who helped them. These are the people for whom the introduction day is. And so it takes a truly cynical soul to abuse anyone who has made it over the threshold and into the memorial gallery.
Where the game is always good, and so are we.
The introductory weekend was as usual a feast for Baines and the others. It was just as magical as every weekend that takes place on these precious summer days. And for the new members of the elite brotherhood of baseball, whose commemorative tablets are left on the way home, this celebration never really ends. They are in the club and welcome again every summer. In fact, this weekend in Cooperstown were 58 Hall of Famers, the liveliest Hall of Famers ever in one place at a time.
"It's very overwhelming," Baines said in his succinct manner. "I am very happy to be a part of it."
What was celebrated? WAR? Winning probability added? OPS? No, these are the pre-election tools, but they're outdated in Cooperstown. What remains is all that's good with these players and more importantly in the game itself. We celebrated the initiates for what they did, not for what they did not do.
Lastly, as usual, Rivera summarized the theme for the weekend and said, "Baseball is a team sport, you can not do it alone."
Everyone who helped the new Hall of Famers took their place in the Hall of Fame, celebrate. Above all, one must be happy about the small towns, because on the shores of Lake Otesaga there is a place for their children. It has always been, but now these villages and hamlets can be in the Caribbean, Central America, Canada or the Pacific. You can now come from anywhere and land in Cooperstown.
This weekend we will be reminded of the best in the game. We are reminded that the game is available to more people than ever before. And that's why the best chapters for the sport may not have been written yet. The Hall of Fame reminds us of where we were and what progress we made. Best of all, every introductory weekend in Cooperstown reminds us who we are when we're at their best.