Tim Raines was known for his blazing speed during a 23-year MLB career. But for Raines, 58, waiting for the phone call confirming his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame was an excruciatingly slow process. It took 10 long years, the maximum amount of time a player is eligible to remain on the ballot. But this year, that call finally came.
“When my phone rung, it was a weird feeling,” says Raines. “I knew it was the call, but I was still nervous that it wouldn’t have been the call. It was a feeling of excitement, joy, everything positive. And I wanted to scream. But I knew that I was on the phone, and we were taking videos. I was calm enough to say, ‘Thank you.’”
A switch-hitting left fielder, “Rock” Raines broke into the big leagues with the Montreal Expos at 19 years old in 1979, and was a seven-time All-Star, four-time stolen base leader, batting champion, All-Star Game MVP and two-time World Series winner with the New York Yankees before retiring at age 42 in 2002. After all that, his Hall of Fame enshrinement was a fitting final step.
“Just being one of them,” says Raines, on joining the fraternity immortalized in Cooperstown. “It was like being a kid in a candy store, to see all these great players, and being surrounded by them. And not only that, them coming up and congratulating me for joining their team, which was unbelievable.”
His playing days are over, but Raines is still running nearly as much as when he was the National League’s answer to Rickey Henderson. He works with the Toronto Blue Jays, coaching minor league base-running. He is also a spokesman for Osteo Bi-Flex Joint Health, which he says helps him keep up with his six-year-old twin daughters, Ava and Amelie, at his Phoenix-area home.
Raines also has two adult children, Tim Jr. (“Little Rock”) and Andre (“Little Hawk”). In 2001, Tim Sr. and Jr. joined Ken Griffey Sr. and Jr. to become only the second father-son duo to play in the same MLB game. Andre is named after Raines’ beloved Expos teammate and fellow Hall of Famer Andre Dawson, who Raines still reminisces about.
“Lionel Richie was performing in Pittsburgh,” Raines says. “We’re walking down the street, and a guy came up to us and he thought Andre Dawson was Lionel Richie. So the guy says, ‘My God, it’s Lionel Richie!’ to Andre. To this day we still get on him about that, it was so funny.”
Ensuring the Expos’ legacy is never forgotten, Raines joins Dawson and Gary Carter to represent the Montreal franchise that relocated to Washington, D.C., and became the Nationals in 2005.
“Those two guys pretty much helped me become the style of player that I became,” Raines says.
That style, it turns out, had Hall of Fame flair.