Beckham, meet Baines
Welcome to the big leagues, Gordon Beckham.
The White Sox top pick from the 2008 First-Year Player draft was the subject of his first team prank on Monday, following a Sunday batting practice session when he reportedly asked A.J. Pierzynski “Who is Harold Baines?”
Joey Cora, the White Sox bench coach, was the evil mastermind of this put on, live from Glendale, beginning with what he called a game of “Who am I?” after making the morning announcements before team stretch.
“Maybe a couple of you guys know exactly who this person is. He’s a special person,” Cora said. “This person is ranked 18th in games playd, all-time, in Major League Baseball.
“No. 26, ALL-TIME, in Major League Baseball, in at-bats,” said Cora, emphasizing all-time for effect. “No. 28, ALL-TIME in Major League baseball, with 1,628 RBIs.
“Total bases, 33rd ALL-TIME in Major League Baseball. Forty-first in hits, ALL-TIME, with 2,886 hits. Fiftieth, ALL-TIME, in extra-base hits, with 921.
“It’s unbelievable,” Cora added. “This guy should be in the Hall of Fame.”
At that point, general manager Ken Williams chimed in.
“He was clutch, too, wasn’t he?” Williams said.
And, then Cora produced the exclamation point for the joke.
“By the way, a lot of you guys who have played at Cellular Field, whoever hasn’t played there, there’s a statue in right field of this guy,” Cora said.
Cora held up a black and white copy of a photo of Baines standing next to his statue and asked, “I wonder who it is? Let’s take a crack at it.”
Somewhere around half-way through the set up, Beckham saw the joke coming his way and didn’t flinch when answering, “Harold Baines.”
Baines and Beckham shook hands, and Baines signed the picture for the phenom. But the prank was not complete without Jermaine Dye encouraging Beckham to explain how this situation originally began.
“I knew who Harold Baines was,” Beckham said.
“Maybe you didn’t,” Pierzynski and Brian Anderson responded.
“A.J. asked why I was No. 80, and I said, ‘I don’t know. What number do you think they should have given me?’” Beckham said. “A.J. goes, ‘I thought they were going to un-retire Harold’s number for you. And I said, ‘Who’s Harold?’”
Clearly, Beckham won’t ask that question again.
“Now, I know,” Beckham said with a smile.
Beckham might want to share that information with a fan at Camelback Ranch, who greeted Baines on his way to the practice fields Monday by announcing, “Good morning, Jermaine.”