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Baines, Smith enter Hall with fond O's memories

MLB.com @JoeTrezz

LAS VEGAS -- The tears swelled in Harold Baines' eyes, the often stoic, intimidating slugger overcome with emotion he rarely displayed on the field. He paused as they fell from his face, silencing those gathered at the ballroom press conference staged to celebrate two careers now set for immortality.

They are tears that have come for Baines often in the past 24 hours, since he and Lee Smith were selected as the newest members of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Baines cites his family when asked who was proudest of the call he received Sunday night from the Today's Game Era Committee, referencing his wife, Maria Henry, and four children. That's also why he also can't help but reflect on who won't be in attendance to see him inducted to Cooperstown this summer: his late father, Linwood Baines Jr.

LAS VEGAS -- The tears swelled in Harold Baines' eyes, the often stoic, intimidating slugger overcome with emotion he rarely displayed on the field. He paused as they fell from his face, silencing those gathered at the ballroom press conference staged to celebrate two careers now set for immortality.

They are tears that have come for Baines often in the past 24 hours, since he and Lee Smith were selected as the newest members of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Baines cites his family when asked who was proudest of the call he received Sunday night from the Today's Game Era Committee, referencing his wife, Maria Henry, and four children. That's also why he also can't help but reflect on who won't be in attendance to see him inducted to Cooperstown this summer: his late father, Linwood Baines Jr.

"He's my hero," Baines said at last, collecting himself. "That's the thing I miss the most."

Video: Baines gets emotional when discussing father's impact

Speaking after the Hall's initial announcement Sunday, Baines called Linwood's presence at his 1980 MLB debut the most important moment of his career. Their relationship was formed long before, as Baines developed into a top prospect in the shadow of Memorial Stadium. A native of Easton, Md., Baines was drafted No.1 overall out of St. Michaels High School in '77. He went on to become one of the premier hitters of his era, an elite designated hitter who made six All-Star teams, won a Silver Slugger Award and amassed 2,866 hits and 384 home runs across 22 seasons.

Video: Gammons reacts to Smith, Baines being elected to HOF

Parts of seven of those seasons came in Baltimore, where Baines was perhaps his most productive. He ranks among the club's all-time leaders in batting (.301), on-base percentage (.379) and slugging (.502), and still resides in nearby St. Michaels.

"Baltimore is home for me, so it was a very special moment," Baines said. "Any player playing in his home town would enjoy it. I was there seven years, and I enjoyed every minute."

During the second year of his first stint with the O's, in 1994, Baines' path intersected with Smith's. Then 35, Baines hit .294 with an .840 OPS that year as an anchor of a lineup that also featured Cal Ripken, Rafael Palmeiro and Brady Anderson. Smith saved an American League-best 33 games and finished fifth in Cy Young Award voting before finishing his career with the Angels, Reds and Expos. Though both will likely be inducted into the Hall wearing Chicago hats -- Baines' with a White Sox logo and Smith wearing Cubs colors -- the two are now forever linked, as they also are to the city of Baltimore.

"I wish I could've played there longer," Smith said. "I really enjoyed playing there. It was like every day you would come out of the house so you can get tickets to the game. That's a good feeling as a player. A sellout crowd for the rest of the season, with people trying to get to the ballpark. That's how you know the product the organization was putting on the field that year."

Joe Trezza covers the Orioles for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JoeTrezz.

Baltimore Orioles