Raines hopes to follow same path to Cooperstown as Carter and Dawson

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2013 Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Tim Raines hopes that he will one day be honoured in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. (Photo courtesy of Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame).

Being inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame proved to be a good omen for Gary Carter and Andre Dawson.

After being honoured at the St. Marys, Ont.-based ball shrine, both of the former Montreal Expos stars were later enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

Their longtime teammate, Tim Raines, is hoping for a similar fate. Announced as a member of the Canadian ball hall’s class of 2013 last Thursday, the speedy ex-outfielder remains cautiously optimistic about his chances for a plaque in Cooperstown.

“I just keep hoping and praying that it will happen,” said Raines, when asked about his Cooperstown chances during the Canadian ball hall’s media conference call last week. “If it doesn’t, so be it. But I just keep my fingers crossed, hoping that one day it will finally happen. If not, I’m a Canadian Hall of Famer now and I feel pretty good about that.”

Raines was named on 52.2 per cent of baseball writers’ Cooperstown ballots (75 per cent is required for induction) in his sixth year of eligibility.

Born in Sanford, Fla., in 1959, Raines blossomed into one of the best leadoff hitters in major league history. A fifth-round pick of the Expos in 1977, Raines excelled for parts of 13 seasons in Canada. From 1981 to 1987, the fleet-footed outfielder was selected to seven consecutive all-star teams and was named the MVP of the 1987 Midsummer Classic. During that same period, he also won a National League batting title in 1986 and topped the Senior Circuit in runs twice and stolen bases four times.

In 1,452 games with the Expos, Raines set franchise records in runs (947), stolen bases (635), triples (82), walks (793) and singles (1,163). He also ranks second in Expos history in batting average (.301) and hits (1,622).

In December 1990, Raines was dealt to the Chicago White Sox, where he toiled for five seasons, before being traded to the New York Yankees, where he earned two World Series rings (1996, 1998). In 2001, he returned to the Expos and hit .308 in 47 contests. In all, in a 23-year big league career – that also included stints with the Oakland A’s, Baltimore Orioles and Florida Marlins – Raines collected 2,605 hits and 808 stolen bases (fifth all-time).

But despite career stats comparable to Rickey Henderson’s and, for the most part, better than Lou Brock’s, Raines has yet to garner enough support from Hall voters. Many attribute this to the fact that Raines enjoyed his best seasons in the relative obscurity of Montreal. Others contend that Henderson, the best leadoff hitter in major league history, overshadowed Raines.

“We’re similar types of players, but we’re different in a lot of ways,” said Raines, when asked about comparisons to Henderson. “We’re similar in that we’re leadoff guys. We’re guys that stole a lot of bases. We’re guys that made things happen. I didn’t care one way or another about the comparisons, but . . . I think when you compare us, there are a lot of things that he did a lot better than me and there are things I did as well or better than him . . . But I don’t mind it (the comparisons). He’s in the Hall of Fame, so I kind of hope people continue to compare us, so maybe I’ll get a chance to get in there as well.”

There’s no question among many of those who shared the field with Raines that he warrants a plaque in Cooperstown.

“That’s one guy that I’m amazed that folks didn’t realize how great he was. He could do anything he wanted on the ball field. And I hate to make comparisons because I get in trouble, but if Rickey Henderson is in the Hall of Fame, Tim Raines should be in the Hall of Fame,” said former Expos teammate, Wallace Johnson, in a January 2012 interview. “I think ‘Rock’ brought much more than just base-stealing. He was a switch-hitter that won a batting title. He could do all kinds of things. I think without a doubt he should be in the Hall of Fame. I’m his No. 1 booster here in Gary, Indiana. We’ve got Andre in there, we’ve got Gary (Carter) in there, Dave Van Horne and now we need to get ‘Rock’ in there.”

Expos legend Jim Fanning, who managed Raines for parts of three seasons in Montreal, agrees.

“Tim had a long career. He played long enough to have compiled all kinds of stats from base-stealing to extra base hits to home runs for a little guy,” said Fanning in a January 2012 interview. “He is truly for me a Hall of Famer. I think very definitely. He’s one of the top base-stealers in the history of the game, and he has done all of those other things with his offence and what he could do as a player, he could just churn things up. We didn’t have a steal sign with Timmy Raines, he’d just go. I don’t know of a greater baserunner . . . He was a great physical specimen and a really great guy.”

Raines’ Hall candidacy has also been championed in Cooperstown in recent years. In his 2010 induction speech, Dawson expressed his desire to see Raines inducted, as did legendary Canadian baseball writer Bob Elliott, who put in a plug for Raines during his Ford. C. Frick Award acceptance speech in July 2012.

For his part, Raines says he respects the baseball writers who do the voting.

“I just always thought that the Baseball Hall of Fame was probably the toughest Hall to get into. It’s a different animal compared to all of the other major sports. As you know, this year there wasn’t one player that was inducted,” he said. “I’ve always respected the vote from the sportswriters . . . I pray to God that the day will come (that he’ll be inducted), but if it doesn’t, I’ll be happy to get up to 50 per cent of the vote.”

It was clear during last Thursday’s Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame media conference call that Raines maintains a special place in his heart for Montreal and for Canada. Last year, he returned to Montreal for a reunion of the 1981 Expos and he recently accepted a position to be a minor league baserunning and outfield instructor with the Toronto Blue Jays.

“My wife is from Ottawa, so I kind of have half a Canadian family right now,” he said. “I have twin daughters that are half Canadian and half American, and for all those years that I was in Montreal, I felt like I was part of Canada. I had the greatest times of my career in Montreal.”

Raines also appreciates the support he has received from north of the border over the years and is looking forward to seeing many of his Canadian fans on June 29 when he gets his plaque in the Canadian ball hall in St. Marys alongside Carter and Dawson.

“The emotions of not getting into the National Baseball Hall of Fame is something that I’ve been dealing with for five years, so to get into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, I feel jubilation,” said Raines. “It’s the highest honour I’ve gotten since I’ve played professional baseball, so this is a great moment for me and my family, and I was ecstatic to hear about it.”

For a list of the eight players that are members of both the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and the National Baseball Hall of Fame, please visit my Cooperstowners in Canada Facebook page.

8 thoughts on “Raines hopes to follow same path to Cooperstown as Carter and Dawson

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  1. Raines is one of the best players in MLB history. His SB, hits, AVG and OBP show it! We are glad to have him with Carter and Dawson in the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and in the next few years I feel he will be in Cooperstown. Thanks Kevin.

    1. cooperstownersincanada – Kevin Glew is a professional writer based in London, Ontario. His work has been featured on CBC Sports, Sportsnet.ca, MLB.com and Sympatico.ca. He has also written articles for Baseball Digest, Baseball America, The Hockey News, Sports Market Report and the Canadian Baseball Network. He has been involved with the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame for more than 16 years, including a two-year stint as the museum's acting curator.
      cooperstownersincanada says:

      Thanks, Scott. I look forward to June 29. It’s a great class of inductees this year.

  2. Tom Valcke – Stratford, Ontario – Tom Valcke put his iCASE Baseball Academy as well as his position of Head Coach at George Brown College into hiatus, when Hong Kong brought him there in 2018 to serve as head coach of their Men's Olympic baseball team, where he finished with unprecedented success in the 2018 Asian Games held in Jakarta, Indonesia, spiking their WBSC World Ranking from #41 to #28 in just one year under his tutelage. China then scooped up Valcke, as he became the GM and Head Coach of Panda Sport and Culture, a division of the China Olympic Federation, overseeing baseball and softball, and training the national team coaches of baseball and softball, men's and women's teams. Panda Sport and Culture is based in Zhongshan, China's nationally recognized "#1 Baseball City," located on the southeast tip of China, and has a climate much like Florida. On his own initiative, he spent his evenings working with the local coaches of Zhongshan's local amateur youth baseball teams. For the first time in history, the same city won all four 2019 China National Championship gold medals, in 18U, 15U, 12U and 10U, that city being Zhongshan! Valcke worked with the China Baseball Association and Major League Baseball in helping the world's largest country accelerate their evolution into baseball, and helped them design and build a professional baseball stadium, a 600-room dormitory, and a new HQ for Panda Sport and Culture, where he held the role of CEO, in charge of a staff of 60. Valcke, former Technical Director, and Executive Director of Baseball Canada, and former coach of Team Canada, remains a baseball analyst with CBC Canada Radio and TV. The former president/CEO of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, who spent a decade as the Canadian Supervisor with the Major League Baseball Central Scouting Bureau, served as a television broadcaster for the Montreal Expos, the GM of the Calgary Cannons Triple-A club, and the CEO/Head Coach of the World Children's Baseball Fair. He is the proud father of Alanna, Jaxon and Mia, and lucky husband of Paula since 1987. Jaxon and Mia are current star players and captains, respectively, of the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds baseball and softball teams. Mia also became the second female in history to play in World Cups for Team Canada Women's baseball team as well as Team Canada Women's softball team. https://www.canadianbaseballnetwork.com/canadian-baseball-network-articles/baseball-nomad-valcke-a-top-amateur-executive http://www.wbsc.org/csta-prestige-awards-honors-tom-valcke/ https://cooperstownersincanada.com/2012/01/23/valcke-recognized-for-global-baseball-efforts/
    Tom Valcke, iCASE Baseball Academy GM says:

    I just read on Kevin Glew’s site that Raines’ daughters are half-Canadian? Wonder how old they are and if they play ball? Might be worth you checking out, Mr. Pan Am Games!

    Tom

    1. cooperstownersincanada – Kevin Glew is a professional writer based in London, Ontario. His work has been featured on CBC Sports, Sportsnet.ca, MLB.com and Sympatico.ca. He has also written articles for Baseball Digest, Baseball America, The Hockey News, Sports Market Report and the Canadian Baseball Network. He has been involved with the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame for more than 16 years, including a two-year stint as the museum's acting curator.
      cooperstownersincanada says:

      Thanks for the comment, Tom. Roy Halladay’s kids are also Canadian. That may be worth keeping an eye on, too. 🙂

  3. Tim Raines was the most electrifying player that I have seen. He nearly always turned a single into a double by stealing second and if third was vacant he would steal it as well. Hope he makes into Cooperstown, very proud that he will be inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Hall this June. Excellent choice.

    1. cooperstownersincanada – Kevin Glew is a professional writer based in London, Ontario. His work has been featured on CBC Sports, Sportsnet.ca, MLB.com and Sympatico.ca. He has also written articles for Baseball Digest, Baseball America, The Hockey News, Sports Market Report and the Canadian Baseball Network. He has been involved with the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame for more than 16 years, including a two-year stint as the museum's acting curator.
      cooperstownersincanada says:

      Thanks for the comment, Larry. I agree with you on Raines. Hope to see you in St. Marys for the ceremony in June.

  4. cooperstownersincanada – Kevin Glew is a professional writer based in London, Ontario. His work has been featured on CBC Sports, Sportsnet.ca, MLB.com and Sympatico.ca. He has also written articles for Baseball Digest, Baseball America, The Hockey News, Sports Market Report and the Canadian Baseball Network. He has been involved with the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame for more than 16 years, including a two-year stint as the museum's acting curator.
    cooperstownersincanada says:

    From Devon Teeple:

    One hell of a career that’s for sure.

    But with the way the Hall is voting now, I’m not sure any one is a lock

    1. cooperstownersincanada – Kevin Glew is a professional writer based in London, Ontario. His work has been featured on CBC Sports, Sportsnet.ca, MLB.com and Sympatico.ca. He has also written articles for Baseball Digest, Baseball America, The Hockey News, Sports Market Report and the Canadian Baseball Network. He has been involved with the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame for more than 16 years, including a two-year stint as the museum's acting curator.
      cooperstownersincanada says:

      Thanks for the comment, Devon. Yes, you’re right about the Hall voting. I thought Biggio would be a lock this year.

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