Raines ready to take his place in Hall of Fame

For­mer Ex­pos’ star re­calls sig­nif­i­cance of Open­ing Day 1981

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS - BASE­BALL BY JOHN KEKIS

Tim Raines played in the ma­jor leagues for more than two decades, and yet one at-bat still sticks in his mind.

Ner­vous about mak­ing the Mon­treal Ex­pos’ ros­ter af­ter two brief call-ups that didn’t work out so well (one hit in 20 at-bats), his per­for­mance on Open­ing Day 1981 in Pitts­burgh erased any doubt.

Raines led off the game with a walk, stole sec­ond on the first pitch to the next bat­ter and scored af­ter the er­rant throw to sec­ond eluded the out­field­ers. A star was born.

“I think that was the be­gin­ning of the type of player Tim Raines could be,” Raines re­called. “It kind of got me go­ing. I think if I would have struck out and not do any­thing of­fen­sively that game, I’m not sure what would have hap­pened to my ca­reer. I hadn’t re­ally proven to any­one what type of player that I was. It kind of just took off from there.”

His base­ball jour­ney ends Sun­day in Coop­er­stown, when the 57-year-old Raines will be in­ducted into the Base­ball Hall of Fame. Join­ing him are Jeff Bag­well and Ivan Ro­driguez, along with for­mer Com­mis­sioner Bud Selig and re­tired Kansas City and At­lanta ex­ec­u­tive John Schuer­holz, both elected by a vet­er­ans com­mit­tee.

Raines re­ceived 86 per cent of the vote by the Base­ball Writ­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion of Amer­ica to eas­ily top the 75 per cent thresh­old needed.

That tally came on his fi­nal year on the bal­lot, an over­sight that’s dif­fi­cult to fathom in ret­ro­spect.

The switch-hit­ting Raines bat­ted .294 and had a .385 on­base per­cent­age in his 23-year ca­reer, fin­ish­ing with 2,605 hits, 1,571 runs and 808 stolen bases. The stolen bases is the fifth-high­est to­tal in ma­jor league his­tory and in­cludes 70 or more steals in each sea­son from 1981-86, a streak that stands alone in base­ball his­tory.

Take a closer look at his ac­com­plish­ments on the basepa­ths, and they are quite re­mark­able – his 84.7 per cent suc­cess rate tops the list among play­ers with at least 400 steal at­tempts.

Raines cred­its his for­tune to the in­creas­ing pop­u­lar­ity of saber­met­rics, ad­vanced statis­tics that give greater in­sight into a player’s worth.

THE CANA­DIAN PRESS/NATHAN DENETTE

Tim Raines throws out the cer­e­mo­nial first pitch prior to an in­ter­league in Toronto on April 11.

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