Raines falls short in Hall of Fame voting
Henderson, Rice only players elected to Cooperstown in 2009
WASHINGTON -- In his second year of eligibility, former outfielder Tim Raines was denied entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Monday, receiving 122 votes, or 22.6 percent. He needed 75 percent to gain entry.
Instead, the Baseball Writers' Association of America elected Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice into the Hall. Raines' vote total was less than what he received in his first year of eligibility. Last year he received 132 votes, or 24.3 percent.
Raines is considered one of the best leadoff hitters of all-time. Most of his damage at the top of the lineup was done as a member of the Expos and White Sox. From 1982-92, he scored 90 or more runs eight times. He led the National League in stolen bases four times, was an All-Star seven times and hit .290 or better six times.
Overall, the switch-hitting Raines played 23 years. He ranks fifth all-time in stolen bases and ended up with 2,605 hits and 1,571 runs scored. Even when his days as an everyday player were over, Raines proved to be a valuable reserve, helping the Yankees win World Series titles in 1996 and '98.
Andre Dawson, who also fell short in the Hall of Fame balloting, is baffled that Raines had such a low vote total.
"It's a surprise to me that Timmy didn't get more votes," Dawson said. "I look at Timmy as the Rickey Henderson of the National League. Timmy was a catalyst at the top of the lineup. He did as well as anybody in the history of baseball."
But talk to Rangers scout Mel Didier, who was the Expos' farm and scouting director in the late 1960s and most of the 1970s, and he'll tell you that Raines falls a little short when it comes to being a Hall of Famer.
"When you compare him to Andre Dawson, who is not in there, and Jim Rice, I don't think he is up to that standard," Didier said. "Tim was a real good player. He could be a real force at times -- stealing bases and the offensive part of it. He might have been as good as they were at the leadoff spot. I'm not sure if he should get same the attention as Andre Dawson or Jim Rice. I think Andre deserves to be in there."
Serge Touchette, a long-time sportswriter for the Journal de Montreal, said 2009 was not the time to vote Raines into the Hall of Fame, but he feels he eventually will get in.
"It was Rickey Henderson's year," Touchette said. "When you look at [Henderson'] stats, nobody is second. His numbers are so unbelievable as a leadoff guy. Not too many guys can compare to him.
"On the other hand, I believe Raines deserves to be in. But, this year? I didn't think so. When you look at Henderson's numbers, it's unbelievable -- runs, hits, home runs, walks, stolen bases. It's like comparing a pretty good hitter to Babe Ruth's stats. I think Raines was among the best four or five leadoff guys in baseball history. Raines is right there. I think he will get elected down the road."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.