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Short and sweet: Harold Baines focuses on family, teammates and hard work in emotional Hall of Fame speech

Paul Sullivan, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Baseball

Harold Baines cut right to the chase Sunday when he began his Hall of Fame induction speech at the Clark Sports Center, telling his friends and former teammates to start their stopwatches.

The man of few words knew everyone was wondering how long his speech would be, especially after Tim Raines had predicted it would be the shortest in history.

"I know you have a bet on it," Baines said.

As it turned out, Baines spoke for 9 minutes, 34 seconds, touching on themes including giving back to your community, putting family ahead of everything else and working hard at your job without complaint.

It was typical Harold -- blunt, honest and relatively brief, avoiding those "I remember when..." anecdotes that fill up many Hall of Fame speeches.

Baines got emotional talking about his wife, Marla, his kids and his late father, Linwood, a mason who worked six days a week to support his family, instilling important values in the process. That in turn helped Baines become one of the most consistent and longest-lasting designated hitters the game has seen.

 

"Through his words, and more importantly his deeds, (he) taught me how to approach life," Baines said of his dad. "You work at it, you put your head down, you keep your mouth shut and you work at your craft day in, day out."

That's Harold Baines in a nutshell.

Everyone jokes about his lack of verbosity and the fact he has never heard a question he couldn't answer with one word. But he has a wry sense of humor and acknowledged his reluctance to elaborate during interviews, tracing it to one particular postgame clubhouse encounter after a record-setting 25-inning win over the Brewers in 1984 that spanned two days and ended on a Baines homer.

When a writer approached Baines and noted the Sox slugger "got all of that one," Baines simply replied: "Evidently."

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