Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Harold Baines Tribute Day

Well, I finally saw Harold Baines get his statue at U.S. Cellular Field. It stands proud on the concourse behind right field, which is only fitting because Harold patrolled right field for the White Sox before becoming MLB's best DH.

I have to say the ceremony was awesome! Many teammates, including Carlton Fisk, joined the festivities to honor Harold. Even Roland Hemond was there. Roland signed Harold to his first big league contract.

When the statue was unveiled, the crowd burst in applause. This will be a lasting tribute to a great man, on and off the field. I was happy to see that Harold's parents, siblings, wife and children were all there as well. Maybe Harold won't get in the Hall of Fame, but there are still people who love and admire him for who he is. Seeing that much family there to celebrate this honor with Harold was more moving than the actual ceremony. That is a testimony to the type of human being that Harold is.
The likeness is pretty uncanny. It looks just like Harold did 25 years ago. A few members of my family tell me otherwise, but this image has been approved by the most revered critics, Harold and his family.
Then, the biggest treat of all happened. Harold spoke. To those who haven't followed Harold Baines in his career, to hear Harold speak in public is to witness a rare occurrence, like a comet smashing into a planet. You hear about it, but you rarely ever see it happen. That made me smile more than anything that day. I actually teared up more than once. Apparently, Harold felt the exact same way that I did. He was choked up a few different times during his speech. It is a moment in White Sox history, that I have experienced, that I will never forget.Throughout the game, during breaks in the action, the Sox played highlights from Harold's career. It was fantastic to relive some of those moments and actually be in the ballpark. It was a very emotional day for me and most Sox fans.

Another highlight of the day was getting to hear Nancy Faust. She only plays day games, usually Sundays. That took me back to the old park and games with friends and relatives. Plus, seeing the mid-eighties uniforms on the field gave a real nostalgic feel to the entire day.

The pictures above are from the Tribune staff photographers. The one below is from me.

I've taken the liberty of highlighting Harold's statue. This was as close as Tracey and I got to it. Squint real hard. There's a small gathering of people in front of it. Tracey and I had tickets in the upper deck. The White Sox have changed their policy of letting people roam wherever they want between levels. I could not get onto the main concourse because I didn't have a ticket for that level. Oh well. The next time I'm at the park, I'll get tickets for that level.

I did, however get decent shots of Championship Plaza which I will save for another post.

The only complaint that I had about the day? Just because the White Sox are wearing their mid-eighties uniforms, doesn't mean that they have to play like it was the mid-eighties. At least I got to see Jim Thome get hit #2,000. Two class acts getting two rewards in one day. I can accept that in the face of defeat. Only for this day, of course.


Jason T. Carter said...

Very cool, Steve. I'm glad you got to be there for it.

Scott said...

Same here, glad you made it there.

Steve Gierman said...

I was determined not to let another one of my childhood idols getting a statue slip by. Will the Savemaster ever get his own statue? Probably not, but there is a nice picture of Bobby in the White Sox history mural that runs the length of the upper deck wind tunnel, I mean concourse.

Scott said...

Hmmm, one record breaking season is awesome, and for the record to still stand (but this season looks like it might be the one to break it) is pretty impressive, but to garner the honor of a statue....I don't know about that. Maybe if he conitnues with coaching to add to his Sox resume.

Steve Gierman said...

I really doubt a statue is in the future for Bobby at the park. I was happy to see him bigger than life on the mural.

I think the record will still stand after this season. K-Rod is on a record pace, but I think he will fall a few games short. If Trevor Hoffman couldn't do it in his prime, I'm not sure anyone could.

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