Baines leads four future Hall of Famers in '77 Draft

Written by: Craig Muder

As the story goes, Bill Veeck first saw Harold Baines play when Baines was a 12-year-old Little Leaguer in Maryland.

And on that very day, Veeck decided that Baines was headed to the big leagues.

On June 7, 1977, Veeck – then the owner of the Chicago White Sox – possessed the first overall pick in the MLB Draft. And he remembered Baines.

“I’ve heard the story many times,” Baines said after he was elected to the Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2019. “But I didn’t know that an owner of a big league team had seen me play.”

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The White Sox selected Baines, who had just graduated from St. Michael’s (Md.) High School, No. 1 overall, launching him on a career path that would take him to Cooperstown after totaling 384 home runs and 1,628 RBI. Baines was one of four future Hall of Famers taken in that draft.

“I was just honored that Bill Veeck and the White Sox thought enough of me to draft me first,” Baines said.

The Montreal Expos took pitcher Bill Gullickson with the second overall selection, setting the stage for another future Hall of Famer with pick No. 3 when the Milwaukee Brewers chose University of Minnesota star Paul Molitor.

Molitor would debut in the big leagues a year later and begin a career that would feature 3,319 hits, 605 doubles, 1,782 runs scored and 504 stolen bases. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2004.

In the fourth round, the Padres drafted shortstop Ozzie Smith, already known as a defensive whiz at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo. The Tigers had taken Smith the year before in the seventh round, but Ozzie elected to return to college.

Like Molitor, Smith would be in the big leagues in 1978, setting new standards for defensive play at shortstop. A trade sent Smith to St. Louis prior to the 1982 season – and Smith would win 11 of his 13 Gold Glove Awards with the Cardinals. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2002.

Then in the fifth round, the Expos made up for missing on Molitor by drafting Tim Raines with the 106th overall pick. A multi-sport star for Seminole High School in Sanford, Fla., Raines chose baseball over football.

“I played baseball because I felt I wasn’t big enough to play football,” said the 5-foot-8, 160-pound Raines. “I was coming to Montreal, not knowing what to expect, not really knowing much about the team, the city or the country.”

Raines adapted quickly, however, making it to the big leagues in 1979 and then setting the National League ablaze in his official rookie season of 1981 when he stole 71 bases in just 88 games.

Only two other MLB Drafts – 1976 and 1989 – featured four future Hall of Famers who were signed by the team that drafted them.

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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