Unlike Teddy, he also spoke — and still speaks — softly. So softly and infrequently, in fact, that it took dedicating a bronze Baines statue at U.S. Cellular Field on Sunday for Harold to speak his first audible words since 2001.
Baines' statue now stands on the outfield concourse with similar bronze sculptures of Carlton Fisk, Luis Aparicio and Nellie Fox, Minnie Minoso and Charles Comiskey. Since the real Baines long ago was all-talked out — his longest recorded quote is "Evidently" — you have to wonder what the bronze Baines thinks of the celebration. Also, how would he put it? Would the statue Harold speak like the human incarnation? Or would he, in a cosmic twist, have a rat-a-tat-tat style like Ozzie Guillen, one of Baines' best pals?
There was only one way to find out: From the idol's own mouth.
Q: Excuse me, Mr. Baines, do you have a moment to talk?
Harold Baines Statue: [Grunts]. Coffee?
HBS: Coffee, man. Do you have any coffee? I'm no good without it and it's early.
Q: I didn't bring coffee; sorry.
HBS: That's all right. You have some questions, man?
Q: Yes, Mr. Baines.
HBS: I'm Doug, man. Call me Doug. Not "Mr. Baines." Just, Doug.
Q: OK, Doug, how does it feel to be all alive and unveiled?
HBS: It sure is bright out here, man. I wish'd they'd sculpted me with shades, y'know? Don't suppose you got a bronze pair of Oakleys on your person?
Q: I don't.
HBS: Maybe a towel? That would be counterproductive, man, seeing as they just unveiled me. Go ahead, man, ask Doug anything. Just do me a favor and keep an eye out for pigeons [laughs, coughs].
Q: Are you excited for this day?
HBS: It's awesome that Doug's being honored with a human. Hal's one great dude.
HBS: Yeah, Hal. Hal Baines. Played with the White Sox from 1980-whatever. Left, had his number retired and came back. Left and came back, number still retired. Bill Veeck saw him play when he was 12, or somethin'. Took him with the top pick in the '77 draft. He was on the '83 Winning Ugly team. Knocked in the winning run the day they clinched the AL West. Led the AL in slugging percentage in '84. Six-time All-Star. Nearly 2,900 hits. Smoke?
Q: Smoke? No, thank you.
HBS: To each his own, man. So, you have some questions?
Q: Yes. How...wait ... are you smoking?
HBS: Yes, I am. Is it not cool, man? Sorry. I'll put it out. Smoking makes some people uptight. That's cool. Long ago, Doug got used to being in the underclass for many an activity. We statues are discriminated against.
Q: Right. So, do you and Hal properly resemble each other?
HBS: Shoot, man, I don't know. I kind of have to go with it, no matter what I look like, ya' know? But we look pretty dead-on for '83 or '84. The good ol' days, man. Hal's a little thicker around the waist. I've got more hair on top of my dome. I talk more than he does; other than that, it's a pretty good resemblance. Great leg kick. Looks like we're about the crush the ball.
Q: I was going to ask you, you're a bit more chatty than Harold, or Hal. He's known for letting his bat talk, I guess.
HBS: Dude, tell me about it. I always wanted him to speak up more, but hey, not many humans have a bronze version of themselves and vice-versa. We musta be striking the right balance, dig?
Q: I do. You got a favorite moment in Harold Baines history, Doug?
HBS: Favorite. Tough one, man, tough one. Probably May 9, 1984. He ended the longest game in major league history with a home run in the 25th inning to beat the Brewers at old Comiskey. That rocked.
Q: Is there anything the people need to know about you or Harold that maybe they don't?
HBS: Dude, more than we got time for. Hal took shark cartilage pills because his knees were shot by '87 or '88. I just had some extra soldering done around all my joints so I'd stand up right. You catch my drift, man?
Q: Far out, man. Hey, I'll let you get back to the fans. Seems like the whole ballpark wants to take your picture.
HBS: Hey, I got as much time as you need. I'm not going anywhere.