This weekend it will be The Hawk, but in the future, it should be “Rock.” At least, that’s what many Montreal Expos fans – including yours truly – are hoping. As Andre Dawson is enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame tomorrow, the wish is that his good friend, Tim “Rock” Raines will be similarly feted in the future.
Named on less than 25 per cent of baseball writers’ ballots (75 per cent is required for induction), Raines has not fared well in his first two years of Cooperstown eligibility. Fortunately for the Expos’ longtime lead-off hitter, a strong lobby group is championing his case (See: http://raines30.com/c32.shtml). In parts of 23 big league seasons, Raines hit .294, recorded a .385 on-base percentage, registered 2,605 hits and stole 808 bases (fifth best in Major League history). Comparisons between Raines and Hall of Famer Lou Brock, who had 1,460 more at bats, reveal that aside from hits and stolen bases, Raines enjoyed a superior career.
A number of circumstances have worked against Raines’s case for induction. The Florida native enjoyed his best big league seasons in the relative obscurity of Montreal, and in 1982, Raines admitted to entering a rehab facility for cocaine use. “Rock” also toiled in the same era as Rickey Henderson, the greatest lead-off hitter of all-time. Though he was often overshadowed by Henderson, Raines was as every bit as good as the former A’s speedster for much of the ’80s. Unlike Rickey, however, Raines chose his spots to run and still holds the record for highest success rate (84.7 per cent) for anyone with over 300 stolen bases. Unfortunately, Raines was hampered by a series of injuries, including a bout with lupus, during his final five seasons. The injuries prevented him from surpassing the magical 3,000-hit plateau. As a consolation, however, the aging speedster did win two World Series titles with the Yankees in 1996 and 1998.
Unlike Dawson or Gary Carter, Raines would likely welcome an Expos cap on his Cooperstown plaque. In parts of 13 seasons with the club, he was a seven-time all-star and ranks at or near the top of most of the club’s all-time, offensive categories. In the franchise’s final days, Raines was called up to coach with the Expos and his No. 30 was retired by the team that same season.
Dawson, for one, believes that Raines belongs in Cooperstown.
“I look at Timmy as the Rickey Henderson of the National League. Timmy was a catalyst at the top of the lineup. He did as well as anybody in the history of baseball,” Dawson said in an interview with MLB.com.
Dawson served as a mentor for Raines, helping him through his drug problems. Raines has often said that he considers Dawson a brother, so much so, in fact, that he named his second son after The Hawk. Let’s hope that in his induction speech tomorrow, The Hawk does a little campaigning for his little brother, “Rock.”