Tim Raines was the best player on the Hall-of-Fame ballot this year, but that was lost on most of the voters.
I’ve heard people say it’s because Raines was lost for a good chunk of his career in the now defunct baseball outpost of Montreal. Others say it’s because he was overshadowed by the greatest leadoff hitter ever, Rickey Henderson. There are even some who suggest that he lost votes because of a stint in a drug rehab center back in 1982.
“It’s his past catching up with him,” said one voting member of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
Beautiful. It’s injustice that finally catches Raines.
On a baseball field nothing could catch him. He stole bases at will and stretched doubles into triples with such ease that you expected him to go all the way home.
Now he has to sit at home and wait for a call from the Hall of Fame. It might come next year or the year after that or maybe the year after that. But who really knows?
They say election to the Hall of Fame is the greatest honor for a ballplayer, but that’s not why Raines raced through 23 big-league seasons piling up stolen-base crowns and World Championships and All-Star appearances and a batting title. He played, like everyone does, for his teammates and for the fans.
Part of his legacy now has to wait on a far less honorable bunch.
Maybe that’s the price everyone has to pay these days. Rich Gossage had to wait nine years before claiming his rightful place in Cooperstown. Jim Rice and Andre Dawson and Bert Blyleven and Jack Morris and Mark McGwire are still waiting.
Injustice can catch anyone.
Even a guy as fast as Tim Raines.