Canada holds baseball memories for two Tim Raines
By Scott Langdon
BRADENTON, Fla. ... Tim Raines will be the third Montreal Expos player inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame wearing an Expos cap like former teammates Gary Carter and Andre Dawson. But he is one of two in his own family with memorable professional baseball moments in Canada.
Raines, whose induction into the Hall of Fame was announced earlier this week, played for the National League Expos for 13 seasons in his 23-year MLB career. His son, Tim Raines, Jr., played pro ball for 14 seasons with parts of three seasons with the Baltimore Orioles of the American League.
They made baseball history together at Ottawa’s JetForm Park in Aug., 2001 when they became the first father and son to play against each other in a professional game in modern baseball history.
Raines was on a rehabilitation assignment to the Expos triple-A affiliate, the Ottawa Lynx. His son had recently been promoted to the Rochester Red Wings, the Orioles’ International League affiliate. Both Raines went 1-for-3 in the first game of a doubleheader, but Raines, Jr. out-hit his Dad with a 1-for-4 in the second game.
On Oct. 2 that year, in his first MLB start, Raines, Jr. recorded his first major league hit when he doubled off against Toronto Blue Jays reliever Mike DeWitt and scored the winner on a Brady Anderson single off Pedro Borbon in the ninth inning.
The two Raines made MLB history when they started in the outfield for the Orioles Oct. 4 at Camden Yards. The Expos had traded Raines to the Orioles a few days before and his son was promoted to the Orioles’ big league roster for the first time. They became only the second father-son tandem to play on the same side in a MLB game. Ken Griffey and Ken Griffey, Jr. accomplished the feat with the Seattle Mariners in 1990.
LF Raines was 0-for-4 in that game while CF Raines, Jr. went 1-for-4, stole a base and scored a run in a 5-4 loss to the Boston Red Sox before 43,302 fans.
The father-son connection continued later in their careers when Raines, Jr. played for Somerset in the Can-Am League against the Newark Bears, managed by his father. Later, Raines, Jr. suited up for the Bears with his father as field manager. Today, both earn their living as baseball coaches. Raines is an instructor in the Blue Jays’ minor league system while his son is freshman head coach at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fl.
Raines, Jr. says the family is thrilled that his father was named to the Hall of Fame in his final year of eligibility.
“I did feel it would happen this year. I just didn’t think baseball would not let it happen if you know what I mean? “ he said during an interview in the bleachers at the IMG Academy Baseball Park. “I mean he’s my Dad. As a kid, I just wanted him to play with me. But now, when I look at his career statistics, he was really, really good.”
Raines was the most successful base stealer, by percentage, in MLB history. He earned All-Star selections in his first seven Expos seasons and finished among the top 10 in MVP voting three times. He recorded 2,605 hits during his career with a .294 batting average.
“Oh, my gosh, I am so proud of him. He sounded like he was 18 years old again having just been drafted when I spoke to him on the phone. I could see the smile through the phone. He sounded exhausted so I said it was time to get some sleep, ” Raines, Jr. said.
The son has some thoughts about why it took 10 years for his Dad to be called to the Hall of Fame.
“There are probably a few reasons. Ironically, one of them might have been playing in Canada, which was so good for him, yet maybe a bit out of sight, out of mind. I also think some post-career TV exposure in an analyst-type job might have kept him more in the public eye,” he said.
“But for my Dad this is a baseball bucket list type of accomplishment. He has done so much, played with and against a son, coached and managed with and against his son. Everything. Now he gets the benefit of being a Hall of Famer. Words can’t express what I’m feeling for him.”
Raines, Jr. reflected on his own baseball connections to Canada including spending summers up to age nine at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium.
“There were so many players’ kids around the ballpark every day. We just had fun trying to find a big empty room somewhere so we could play stick ball. “
His playing days in Canada also bring back memories.
“Oh ya, I can remember an opening day in Ottawa when I was with Rochester in Triple A. It was 29 degrees (about 2 degrees C) at game time. I was wearing three pairs of socks, a hoodie, two pairs of batting gloves and I was just hoping I could pull a hamstring or something to go back to Florida for rehab,” he laughed. He was born in Memphis when his father was with the double-A Memphis Chicks.
He visited Stade Canac, the home of the Quebec Capitales of the Can-Am League, when he played for the Newark Bears under his manager/father and earlier while with the Somerset Patriots.
“Boy, that was an old-looking ballpark for sure. But I remember the playing surface was really good,” he said.
His best Canadian memory?
“Youppi! without question,” he said of the former official mascot of the Expos. “Don’t forget, I was pretty young then.”