Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Tim Raines: Two Autographed Cards

Today, I thought I'd feature two cards of Tim "Rock" Raines with the Chicago White Sox' black uniform, because it's a bad, dark day for the Baseball Hall Of Fame, seeing as they have snubbed him once again, leaving him with just one more shot of making it, next year.

As I wrote a little over a year ago, his numbers should have made a case for themselves:
808 stolen bases, and a stealing percentage of 84.5% - second-best of all-time for players with at least 500 attempts - bests even Henderson. 2605 hits, 430 doubles, 170 home runs, 980 RBIs, 1330 walks for 966 strikeouts...

From the very beginning, in the strike-reduced 1981 season, Raines proved he was for real: sure, he was second for the Rookie Of The Year award, but he also garnered some MVP votes on the strength of 71 steals in just 88 games - the National League record was 75, by Benny Kauff, in a full season. His 27 steals in his first 27 attempts remains a record, though. In the American League, he set a record with 37 straight stolen bases in 1995.

The seven-time All-Star Game participant will be remembered for one of them in particular - in 1987 in Oakland - as he went 3-for-3, and produced both of his team's runs in a 2-0 victory with a two-out, 13th-inning triple against Jay Howell.
He stole 70 or more bases in each of his first seven seasons, and ranks fourth of all-time in the category, but he's also overlooked in other categories where speed was a factor: his doubles total (430) is better than Kirby Puckett's (414) and Willie Stargell's (423), and his triples totals (113) bests Puckett (57) and Stargell (55), for sure, but also the likes of Rickey Henderson (66), Dave Winfield (88), Tony Gwynn (85) and Reggie Jackson (49).

What wins a baseball game? Runs. Raines had 1571, better than Puckett (1071), Stargell (1195), Gwynn (1393) and Jackson (1551).

Freebies are fun, and walks are a sign that pitchers fear you enough to not throw you good pitches. Raines was walked 1330 times, ahead of Brock (761), Puckett (450), Stargell (937), Winfield (1216), Gwynn (790).

Chicago Cubs second basement Ryne Sandberg is in, though Raines beats him in every possible category:
Add two World Series titles with the New York Yankees and you've got yourself a memorable career.
Fix this, Cooperstown.

In the meantime, here's a closer look at the cards, first from Fleer's 1995 Fleer Ultra set (card #33), showing him attempting one of his signature surprise bunts, which he signed in black sharpie:
And here he is with his trademark smile, from Pinnacle Brands' 1996 Score set (card #449), which he signed in blue sharpie:
And here's a ballad singing his praise and talking up some of his achievements:

He remains my favourite baseball player of all time, and was the main reason why I loved the Montréal Expos so much. He likely signed those cards for me in his second stint with the team.

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