By Danny Gallagher
Canadian Baseball Network
Getting the phone call that he was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Jan. 18 was one shock, but when Tim Raines travelled to Cooperstown several months ago to get acclimatized, it was just as numbing.
"I flew into Albany and a guy from the Hall of Fame was picking me up at the airport,'' Raines told reporters in a conference call on Friday. "I saw that he had a Hall of Fame logo on his shirt and at that moment, it hit me. The day of my orientation at the hall also hit me really hard.''
Since his election, Raines has been dazed by the numerous interviews, personal appearances, autograph sessions and book signings he has done. He's been dazed by the text messages, phone calls, tweets and emails he has received.
Raines joins Andre Dawson and Gary Carter wearing an Expos' cap when he's inducted into the hall July 30 along with Ivan Rodriguez, Jeff Bagwell, Bud Selig and John Schuerholz. The event can be followed on the MLB Network, MLB Network Radio and through streamlining at baseballhall.org.
"There is one guy left who could go in wearing an Expos' camp. Vladimir Guerrero. I played with him. I'm not sure whether he will go in an Expo,'' Raines said when someone asked him if he might be the last player to be inducted as an Expo.
As he has been saying for many months, Raines expressed further thanks for the heavy role stats played in his selection. Years ago, those kinds of factors never played into his mind much.
"I didn't think of these stats much as a player but when they came out, I was pretty amazed,'' he said.
One reporter was curious as to what impact long-time teammate and close amigo Andre Dawson had on him as a player. He was quick to land praise on Dawson.
"Just being able to play with him six or seven years in Montreal was really something,'' Raines said. "I really looked up to him. He was like a father to me. He had a tremendous impact on me.''
Raines remembers his first day in an Expos' uniform like it was yesterday. After being called up from double-A Memphis in early September of 1980. He flew into Chicago with much trepidation.
"My first kid was born Aug. 31 and I went to Chicago and I remember being so nervous taking batting practice and I was unable to judge fly balls,'' Raines said. "Being in Montreal was probably the best 12 years in baseball that I was able to play. I enjoyed the atmosphere there and the fans were awesome to me.
"Knowing the crowd was behind me, they pushed me to do things I was able to do. When I returned to the Expos in 2001, I received the longest ovation I ever got. There are a few busloads coming from Montreal for the induction. It means a lot. I'm looking forward to seeing the fans. Montreal is where I spent the biggest part of my career.''
Raines' father Ned Sr., his mother Florence (Sue) and their grand-daughter Tina Raines will be among the many family members who will be on hand in Cooperstown to take part in the induction weekend events.
A number of Raines' former Expos' teammates will also be showing up, including Dawson, Warren Cromartie, Bill Lee and Wallace Johnson.
"Andre kind of took Tim under his wing in Montreal,'' Sue Raines said. "Andre made Tim the man he turned out to be.''
Danny Gallagher will be in Cooperstown to soak up the induction weekend festivities.