MLB legend Tim Raines’ career finally recognized as Hall of Fame-worthy
He even had a chance to play in MLB games with his son
Baseball legend Tim Raines is finally getting his due, and it’s about time. The switch-hitting left fielder can now add Hall of Famer to his resume.
Last week, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America announced that Raines will be inducted into the 2017 Hall of Fame class on July 30 in Cooperstown, New York, as part of the July 28-31 Hall of Fame weekend. He was voted in on his 10th and final year on the ballot, but it was worth the wait.
Raines, first baseman Jeff Bagwell and catcher Ivan Rodriguez join former Atlanta Braves executive John Schuerholz and former Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig to make up the new inductees.
“It was very emotional … It was probably the first time anyone had ever seen me [emotional],” Raines said in an interview with MLB.com. “Usually, I’m the one that has the smile on my face, and trying to get everybody else to smile about everything. Yesterday was the first time that someone tried to get me to smile — but in the right way. I’ve been thinking about this for a long time.”
Raines’ career proves he is a deserving candidate and his many accomplishments have positioned him as one of the greatest players of his era.
He played for six teams during his 23 years in Major League Baseball, spending 13 of them with the Montreal Expos. He made seven All-Star appearances and was All-Star MVP in 1987. His speed and tenacity in the game includes 808 stolen bases, which rank fifth in MLB history. Raines stole at least 70 bases in six straight seasons, the longest such streak in MLB history.
He hit .303 with runners in scoring position for his career, including 10 seasons of .300 or better.
According to BaseballReference.com, Raines first played for the Expos as a 19-year-old September call-up in 1979, after a good season for the AA Memphis Chicks, with whom he played 145 games, with 90 walks, 59 steals and his first five professional home runs.
He admitted to having a substance abuse problem after his first year in the major leagues in 1981.
“I was young. I was 20 years old, not that that is an excuse,” Raines told MLB.com. “At a young age, you don’t know what direction to go. Unfortunately, I stepped in the wrong direction. It was a situation of my first year, full season. We are a game away from going to the World Series. After we were out of it, it took something out of me. I wasn’t sure what I was doing. I was a rookie. A lot of times, you don’t know how to react to that stuff. All of a sudden, all kinds of people are coming at you in totally different ways. As a young kid, at times, I really didn’t handle [it well]. Once I realized what I was doing, I knew it was wrong. I took care of it. I had guys on my team that helped me a lot. I had a lot of guys in my corner, and that’s all it took.”
The most undefeated moment in Raines’ career was his return to play when no one signed him as a free agent in 1987 (owners were later found guilty of collusion). His first game back with the Expos was the most memorable. He went 4-for-5 with three runs scored and hit a game-winning grand slam in the 10th inning to beat the New York Mets. He hit .330 with a career-high 18 home runs that season.
After a 13-year career with the Expos, Raines moved on and had a successful stint with the White Sox, who traded him to the Yankees before the 1996 season. In three years with the Yankees, Raines won two World Series rings. Raines returned to the Expos briefly in 2001, and at the end of the season, they traded him to the Baltimore Orioles. This allowed Raines to play in the same outfield as his son, Tim Raines Jr., for two games. In the second game, Raines Sr. went 3-for-5 with a home run against the Boston Red Sox. He played one more season with the Florida Marlins before retiring.
“It took a while. I’m so excited right now,” Raines said. “I can’t even remember that it took 10 years.”
Off the field nowadays, Raines is a national spokesman for Osteo Bi-Flex, a top bone-and-joint health brand. In 2013, he began working as an outfield and base running coordinator with the Toronto Blue Jays.
ESPN Stats & Information contributed to this report.