Sea kicks up, delivers a curve

Sun Staff

DOGWOOD HARBOR - For one day, Phil Price's 47-foot fishing boat had a Hallof Fame defense and an All-Star offense.

The small, orange-and-black flags flying from the rigging signaled why: No.3 and No. 5 were on board.

No. 3, as in Harold Baines. No. 5, as in Brooks Robinson.

But, as someone pointed out to Robinson, it could easily have been a No. 34up there. That was the Hall of Famer's number during spring training in 1957.

Who knew? Not Robinson.

"I'll be darned," he said, shaking his head when shown an Oriolesearly-season program from that year. "I knew I had another number in springtraining, but I told some woman not too long ago that I thought I was No. 17."

Wednesday's Chesapeake Bay fishing trip with the two former Orioles wasauctioned last winter during a fund-raising dinner to help pay for restorationof a small Tilghman Island church.

Price, a marina operator and high bidder, brought family and fishingbuddies along for the trip down Orioles memory lane. They came armed withbaseballs and hats to have signed and newspaper clippings and programs to peruse.

As Price's boat, The Permit, pulled out of its slip at Capt. BuddyHarrison's inn just past dawn, the sky went from black to bright blue.

On board, another color change was taking place. Flesh tones gave way togreen, as 15-knot winds blasting out of the north produced monstrous swellsthat rolled the big boat from side to side and rocked it up and down.

"Capt. Buddy said last night it would be as smooth as glass," one anglerhollered over the diesel roar.

"That's blown glass," punned Linwood Baines, Harold's father, who seemedcomfortable with his surroundings.

The Dramamine concession was doing a rousing business before Jones andHarrison dropped anchor at "The Gooses," a hot spot in the bay mainstem abouthalfway between the Little Choptank River and Calvert County.

By 8 a.m., lines were cast and anglers hunkered down to battle the fish andthe elements.

The outing was billed as a Baines-Robinson doubleheader, but it wasdominated by a father-son combo that shared the famous players' surnames:Linwood Baines and Chris Robinson.

Harold's dad and Brooks' son - especially the senior Baines - put on afishing clinic, hooking numerous rockfish and blues.

Meanwhile, the ballplayers busied themselves by talking baseball, familiesand golf courses, the last being the place a queasy Harold Baines clearlywished he was.

The St. Michaels native quietly retired before Opening Day this year aftera 22-year career with four teams, most notably the Chicago White Sox. He spenta portion or all of seven seasons in an Orioles uniform.

The lifetime .289 hitter took a job this season with the White Sox workingwith minor-league players in Charlotte, N.C., and Birmingham, Ala.

Baines, 43, says he's on the road about 10 or 15 days a month, adjustinghis schedule to his home life and the activities of his four children, ages 12to 18.

"I like the freedom and I like teaching kids. If you help one of them getto the major leagues, it's giving back to baseball," he said.

Robinson, 65, praised Baines' strategy.

"Harold's keeping his hand in to see if he likes it and that's smart," hesaid. "Because baseball has its way of turning on you. Once you're out, you'reout and it's hard to get back in."

Baines shook his head when asked if he missed his playing days. "Honestly,not as much as I thought I would. I'm moving on, I guess."

Although he moves gingerly on occasion, Baines said getting away fromplaying has eased the pain in his knees, which endured six operations andended his fielding days.

"I saw the zipper on Brooks' knee," he said, pointing to the scar thataccompanied Robinson's joint replacement. "I hope I don't have to get one ofthose."

Both men talked about career milestones.

Robinson won the American League MVP award and 16 Gold Gloves, played in 18All-Star games and collected two World Series rings.

"Somebody asked me what's the one thing I wished I had done. Three thousandhits," he said. "I got 2,848 and then I couldn't get any more."

Baines retired 16 homers shy of 400 and 134 hits short of 3,000. Did hewish he could have played one more year to get closer?

"There wasn't a game plan like that. The goal every year was to win a[World Series] ring. I was fortunate enough to play for 22 years. I had awonderful career," he said. "The only thing I didn't get was a ring."

Baines clearly hopes his numbers are good enough for the Hall of Fame, andit bothers him to think spending half of his career as a designated hitterwill prevent that.

"I played 10 years in the outfield. If you can't win as a DH, why have it?Take it away," he said. "It's been part of the game for 30 years."

Robinson was tickled when someone brought up another milestone that wasn'tpart of his making it to Cooperstown.

"I won the bubble-blowing contest of Little Rock, Ark., when I was 12. Beat2,000 kids with a 16-inch bubble. `King Bub' they called me," he said,laughing.

As midday approached, the water calmed slightly, putting No. 3 and No. 5 inaction.

Brooks Robinson caught a keeper rockfish. "With these hands, I never missone," he cracked.

Harold Baines caught the day's first bluefish.

Soon, the party headed home.

"Sorry for throwing up on your boat," said Baines, holding his No. 3 flagand shaking hands with Jones.

"It wasn't the first time and it won't be the last," replied the graciousskipper.

When it was his turn, Robinson played flawless defense: "I threw up firsttoday, but I just lied about it."

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