To the editors:
I never miss an issue of the Reader, and thoroughly enjoy Ted Cox's "Sports Section."
It was good to see Harold Baines get recognition from somewhere north of Madison Avenue (July 24). I have seen him play nearly every game of his major league career, and have enjoyed watching him develop into one of baseball's best players. He is already rewriting our club's record book, and I believe he will retire with numbers similar to Billy Williams's Hall of Fame figures. You can have Andre Dawson, I will bet that Baines's career stats will surpass Dawson's when it's all said and done.
I am grateful that I had the opportunity to get to know Charlie Lau, a man who taught me so much about the game I love. But Charlie, who might have been the best hitting instructor ever, had absolutely nothing to do with Baines's classic swing, as Cox assumed in his column. Lau told me many times that "changing Baines's swing would be grounds for Charlie Lau's immediate dismissal."
"All I could do to Harold Baines," Lau once told me on a long flight, "is ruin him." Therefore, the Baines we see today has not been altered one bit--ever.
Cox's observation about Baines's timing mechanism, his Mel Ott-like right foot hitch, was an excellent piece of reporting. That hitch, so rare in a successful hitter, is what makes Harold's bat so lethal.
But one correction should be pointed out. Our midsummer trade with the Yankees last season did not include Neil Allen. We acquired Allen in February 1986, and at the time of the July 29 trade involving Ron Kittle, Allen was already on the disabled list with a 7-2 record.
I just wish baseball fans had the chance to get to know Harold Baines. He is a very shy, humble family man. Baines simply doesn't have much to say, and once I became aware of that, he and I have got along great. I'm happy that all of his success hasn't altered his personality one bit. He is a real credit to the Chicago White Sox organization, and we are all happy that his name is in our lineup for many years to come.
Keep up the good work, and give Cox more space.
Daniel Patrick Evans
Player Personnel Director
Chicago White Sox