Harold Baines, Lee Smith Elected to Baseball Hall of Fame
LAS VEGAS -- Harold Baines was given a save as big as any Lee Smith ever posted. In a vote sure to spark renewed cries of cronyism at Cooperstown, Baines surprisingly was picked for the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday after never coming close in any previous election.
Baines had 384 home runs and 1,628 RBIs in a 22-year career, good numbers, but not stacking up against the greats of his day. He never drew more than 6.1 percent in five elections by the Baseball Writers' Association of America, far from the 75 percent required. "Very shocked," the career .289 hitter said on a conference call.
Smith, who held the major league record for saves when he retired, was an easy pick when the Today's Game Era Committee met at the winter meetings. It took 12 votes for election by the 16-member panel. Smith was unanimous, Baines got 12 and former outfielder and manager Lou Piniella fell just short with 11.
Baines was a designated hitter for much of his career after knee trouble ended his days in the outfield. Smith became the seventh pitcher who primarily was a reliever to make the Hall, joining Hoffman, Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage, Bruce Sutter and Hoyt Wilhelm.
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