MLB

Former Expos star Tim Raines' status cemented in Baseball Hall of Fame

Tim Raines has been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

57-year-old played in the major leagues for more than 2 decades

Newly-inducted National Baseball Hall of Famers from left, Bud Selig, Ivan Rodriguez, John Schuer, Tim Raines Sr., and Jeff Bagwell hold their plaques after the induction ceremony. (Hans Pennink/The Associated Press)

Tim Raines has been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Raines was the final speaker and was greeted by lots of fans from Canada, many of whom came aboard several buses.

Raines thanked his mom and dad, who were seated in the front row and later focused on Hall of Famer Andre Dawson, his teammate with the Montreal Expos.

"Without Andre Dawson there's no telling where I'd be," Raines said. "I wanted to kind of be like you and he finally accepted and I followed. Thank you so much for making me the player I became."

The 57-year-old Raines, who became a star with the Expos, played in the major leagues for more than two decades.

The switch-hitting Raines batted .294 and had a .385 on-base percentage in his 23-year career, finishing with 2,605 hits, 1,571 runs and 808 stolen bases. His stolen base total is the fifth-highest in major league history and included 70 or more steals in each season from 1981-86, a streak that stands alone in baseball history. And his 84.7 per cent success rate tops the list among players with at least 400 steal attempts.

Raines also cited former Kansas City Royals star George Brett and base-stealing kind Rickey Henderson, both Hall of Famers who were seated behind him on the stage.

Emotional day for inductees

"Pudge" Rodriguez stared out at his father, wiping away tears as he spoke.

"I love you with all of my heart," Rodriguez said. "If I'm a Hall of Famer, you're a Hall of Famer — double."

Those words punctuated Rodriguez's speech as he was inducted. Jeff Bagwell, former commissioner Bud Selig and front-office guru John Schuerholz also were enshrined on a picture-perfect summer day in front of over 27,000 fans.

"It's always emotional when you see the fans cheering for you, and my whole family in front of me," Bagwell said. "I'm an emotional person. It's a dream just to be part of this beautiful group. Now I have that plaque forever. It's unbelievable."​

The 48-year-old Bagwell was one-third of the famed "Killer B's" of the Astros, along with Hall of Famer Craig Biggio and Lance Berkman. Together they helped transform the Astros from a last-place team to the World Series in 2005, the first team from Texas to do so. Elected in his seventh year on the ballot, Bagwell is the only first baseman in history with 400 career home runs and 200 stolen bases.

"I tried to do everything well," he said. "I wanted to score for my team and for my other players. I enjoy the stolen bases more than anything else. For a little guy with not much speed, I truly appreciate that. I could help us win in different ways."

Bagwell ended his career with 449 home runs and from 1996-2001 had at least 30 home runs, 100 runs scored and 100 RBIs per season, only the sixth player in major league history to reach those marks in at least six straight years.​

Reversal of roles

For Selig, who was celebrating his 83rd birthday, it was a reversal of roles. For more than two decades he gave out the Hall of Fame plaques on induction day.

"It's an overwhelming, stunning feeling," said Selig, who dropped his speech midway through it but never skipped a beat. "You're getting the highest honor."

Selig left a large imprint during more than 22 years as the leader of the game. He was instrumental in the approval of interleague play, the expansion of the playoffs, splitting each league into three divisions with wild cards, instituting video review and revenue-sharing in an era that saw the construction of 20 new ballparks.

His tenure also included the Steroids Era and the cancellation of the 1994 World Series amid a players' strike, but he left baseball in excellent shape economically — without labor strife and with a strict drug-testing policy that has helped clean up the game.

In 26 years as a GM for the Kansas City Royals and Atlanta Braves, Schuerholz stood alone. His teams won 16 division titles, six pennants and two World Series, one in each league, a first. He credited divine providence and fate for his good fortune, starting with a case of German measles that left him deaf in his right ear at age five, which he said forced him to be more attentive.

Schuerholz, who played second base at Towson University, said he quickly figured out where he should concentrate his future in baseball after a two-day tryout when he was told to time the players on the second day instead of taking the field.

"The message was delivered," Schuerholz said. "I'd better concentrate someplace other than trying to be a professional baseball player. Divine providence. Fate. I truly believe so."

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