Baseball greats Lee Smith and Harold Baines finally received the news each has been longing to hear for the nearly two decades they’ve been retired from the game. On Sunday, December 9, it was announced that both men have been elected for induction into the coveted National Baseball Hall of Fame.
MLB.com reports that Smith and Baines received the nod to head up to Cooperstown – courtesy of the Today’s Game Era Committee. The 16-member electorate reportedly held a vote during the annual Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, and came away with a unanimous consensus for Smith – while pushing Baines over the top thanks to 12 out of 16 ballots waving him past the 75 percent threshold needed for him to be able to join the July 21 ceremony.
In 22 seasons, Baines collected 2,866 hits, homered 384 times, and drove in 1,628 runs while maintaining a.289 lifetime batting average, according to Baseball Reference. He was a six-time All-Star who played with the Texas Rangers, the Oakland Athletics, the Baltimore Orioles, the Cleveland Indians, and the Chicago White Sox – with whom he started and ended his career. While Baines never did take home a ring in his playing days, he was fortunate enough to win a World Series title as a coach with the 2005 championship White Sox team. Baines’ No. 3 has been retired by the Sox.
Smith led the league in saves four times between 1983 and 1994. His 1991 campaign proved to be the 6-5, 220-pounder’s most dominant, with him completing the year second in the Cy Young Award vote and eighth among all MVP candidates thanks to a career-best 47 games saved and a 2.34 ERA. He was a seven-time All-Star and three-time recipient of the Rolaids Relief Man Award. Smith is currently holding strong among the top three all-time leading savers, with only Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera having surpassed the 478 games he closed in the win column throughout his 18 years in the majors.
For a time, both Smith and Baines held relatively similar significance on the diamond in that both men were among the best part-time players to ever grace the diamond. Baines did so later in his career as a designated hitter. By the time he retired, the prolific journeyman stood atop all other DH’s in career home runs, hits, runs, and RBI’s. For Smith, it was as a reliever that he became history’s all-time saves king in 1993 and held the mark until 2006, per Yahoo Sports.
Now that the fellas who’ve been neglected from entry for far too long have been given the go, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America have the next month or so to decide on who will get to celebrate their place amongst the greats when the official election results are announced on January 22. Current all-time saves leader, Mariano Rivera is expected to be a lock for induction, with his old Yankees teammate Andy Pettitte, Roy Halladay, Todd Helton, Edgar Martinez, and Fred McGriff also in the running for the big decision.