COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- For Harold Baines, the spotlight that comes with being inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame is definitely not his favorite part of the process.
After posing for pictures with the other four living members of the 2019 class for a huge throng of photographers on a stage Saturday at the Clark Sports Center, the 60-year-old Baines quickly ducked to the side even as the cameras kept clicking past the initially instructed time allotment.
“He said two minutes,” Baines said with a smile. “I’m a guy who likes to be on time.”
Baines isn’t the center of attention in this incoming class, not with the unanimously elected Mariano Rivera highlighting a group that also includes Mike Mussina, Edgar Martinez, Lee Smith and the late Roy Halladay. Which is just fine with him, though he still must go through the same media sessions and the requisite parade, and today will give a speech in front of an expected record crowd of 75,000 or more in the 1:30 p.m. ET ceremony that will be televised on MLB Network and streamed live on MLB.com starting at 11 a.m. ET.
He said he’s handling the crush pretty well.
“I played in front of thousands of people, so I can handle that part of it,” Baines said. “But I’m a shy guy. I don’t like to speak, so that’s going to be the tough part. But I’m speaking about the people that I care about, so that should make it a little easier.”
It tells you much about Baines that while most players speak reverently about previous Hall of Famers or the heroes they had growing up who they’ll now join in the Hall, Baines refers to his father -- who passed away three years ago -- as the only hero in his life.
“My idol is my father,” he said. “No disrespect to all the Hall of Famers there are. But my idol is my father.”
Baines was elected by the Today's Game Era Committee along with Smith and he gets the call 18 years after his playing days ended, following a 22-year career with the White Sox, Orioles, A’s, Rangers and Indians.
“I was very surprised,” he said. “I mean, Edgar is the first DH to go in. So I wasn’t sitting home worried about whether I’d ever make it into the Hall of Fame. I don’t think any player plays this game for the main reason of getting into the Hall of Fame. But I’m very grateful for this honor, for sure.”
What goes through his mind when he walks into the Plaque Room at the Hall of Fame, knowing his place will now be secure there forever?
“A lot of things, but I hold everything in,” he said. “I’m not an outward-showing, emotional guy. That’s just for my family, not really baseball or anything like that. But it’s very overwhelming, to be honest. I’m glad just to be part of it.”