Harold Baines, Lee Smith elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame

LAS VEGAS – Slugger Harold Baines and closer Lee Smith, each of whom were snubbed by the baseball writers, were elected Sunday into the Hall of Fame by Today’s Modern Game Era committee.

Smith was a unanimous choice while Baines received 12 votes, which was the 75% threshold needed.

Baines, a six-time All-Star who produced 2,866 hits, 384 homers and 1,628 RBI, was strongly backed by Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who was one of 16 voters on the committee. Reinsdorf long has said that Baines was his all-time favorite player.

Smith, who pitched 18 seasons, was the all-time saves leader upon his retirement with 478 career saves. He led the league in saves four times and had 30 or more saves in 11 seasons. He also finished in the top five of the Cy Young voting three times. He had 169 saves of four or more outs.

Baines, in particular, was never given much merit on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot. He fell off the ballot after just five years with his highest percentage at 5.9%.

Smith, a seven-time All-Star stayed on the ballot 15 years. His highest vote percentage was 50.6% in 2006.

Albert Belle, Joe Carter, Will Clark, Orel Hershiser, Davey Johnson, Charlie Manuel, Lou Piniella and late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, who were also on the ballot, did not get enough votes. 

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