It was great to hear former Montreal Expo Tim Raines getting a spot alongside baseball’s greats in the Hall of Fame. Like my boyhood idol the late Gary Carter, and Andre Dawson before him, Raines in my mind belongs there with his former Expo teammates.
Rickey Henderson was considered the greatest lead-off hitter in the game. But with apologies to the former Blue Jay and Athletic, and a Hall of Famer himself, Raines was the greatest in that position of all time. He personified what a lead-off hitter was. Raines got on base, stole bases, scored runs, and even provided some clutch hits. And he did it with a team that sat in a so-called small market.
It took 10 years for the man they called Rock to get elected by baseball writers so the question remains: what took him so long? Raines was his final year of eligibility and would have had to wait another 6 years before being eligible again by the veterans committee.
I went through his previous 9 years of eligibility. Raines was on 24.3% of the ballot in his first year in 2008. That year, Rich (Goose) Gossage was elected in his 9th year of eligibility (at the time eligible players had their name on the ballot for 15 years). Gossage was the only player to get elected that year. Jim Rice was 2.8% shy of getting in but managed to get in the Hall the following year, his 15th and final year of eligibility. Dawson had 66% percent in his 7th year. He got the call in 2010.
The percentage of votes Raines got in 2009 dipped to 22%. That year Rice and Henderson went into the Hall. Henderson did so on his first ballot. Every year afterwards, the percentage of votes Raines got increased by an average of 6%. During that time, Roberto Alomar, Barry Larkin, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Frank Thomas became Hall of Famers. In 2016, Raines received 69.8% of the vote.
Raines should not have waited this long to get the call. I always had an issue with the baseball writers when it comes to selecting players for the Hall of Fame. Especially now when many writers protested the so-called steroid era by abstaining. That to me is a disgrace to the profession and amounts to treason worthy of Edward Snowdon status.
But that’s another column for another day. Right now, it is a moment of celebration for those who followed the Expos. Raines now has a spot in Cooperstown and it was well worth the wait.