Orioles Card "O" the Day

An intersection of two of my passions: baseball cards and the Baltimore Orioles. Updated daily?

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Harold Baines, 1993 Studio #190

This is my favorite card of one of my favorite Orioles of all time. It would just figure that at some point not long after I pulled it out of the pack, my careless 11-year-old self would crease it so badly. In that way, the card itself is a lot like Harold. He is listed as a designated hitter/outfielder, but that's a bit of an overstatement of the truth. He never played a single game in the field for the O's, his knees having betrayed him badly. It has always amazed me that Harold played for roughly ten years in persistent pain with virtually no cartilage in his knees. He couldn't play the outfield, he couldn't run...but boy, could he hit. From 1993, when he first arrived in Baltimore at the age of 34, to 1999, when he was 40, his lowest batting average was .294, in the strike-shortened 1994 season. He was an All-Star at 40, posting a lofty .920 OPS with 25 home runs and 103 RBI in just 430 at-bats!

So yeah, I think this card has a lot in common with Harold Baines. It's taken a beating, but it's still going strong, with the classic orange "Orioles" script against the white jersey providing the backdrop for a rare Harold Baines grin. He was always a class act, a quiet sort who let his bat do the talking. The only times that I ever remember seeing his teeth during a game, he was usually grimacing. But as it turns out, he's got a very nice smile, even if it is a little buck-toothed. Maybe that's why he was so reserved on the field; he was self-conscious. If you ask me, someone with 921 career extra-base hits doesn't have anything to worry about. It's not likely that Cooperstown will come calling for #3, not with the stigma of the Designated Hitter and the skepticism with which most voters will view statistics from the last twenty years. But here's hoping that a lot of those voters at least give him a closer look.

1 comment:

Steve Gierman said...

That is a beautiful card of a fantastic player. I'm hoping Harold has at least enough to make it past the cutoff for Hall of Fame voting. He desreves to be in there.

It's great to know that he's appreciated somewhere other than Chicago.