Rejoice baseball fans, Tim Raines is finally on his way to Cooperstown. In his final year of eligibility, the speedy outfielder won over the voters and ended one of the most lengthy Hall of Fame debates in recent baseball memory.
Raines will mainly be remembered for his time with the Montreal Expos, where he made National League base paths his own personal playground. However, he won the only two championships of his career as a veteran with the Yanks, and is fondly remembered as a reliable role player during the resurrection of the franchise.
From his arrival in 1996 to his departure after the Yankees’ historic 1998 season, Raines batted .299 with an OBP of .395 while being a respected clubhouse leader. His time in New York was short, but he still had his share of memorable moments. Let’s relive his top moments in pinstripes.
1996 ALDS Game Three
With the series tied at one game apiece, the Yanks found themselves in a dire situation in the top of the ninth of game three and down a run. With Derek Jeter on first base, Raines laced a single to center field to continue what would be the game-winning and series-changing rally, and would eventually score the game winner on Mariano Duncan’s RBI single with two outs.
1996 World Series Game Four
It seemed like a relatively painless event for the Braves at the time, but it was a contributing factor that helped change the tide of the World Series. After Mark Wohlers surrendered the historic game-tying home run to Jim Leyritz in the eighth inning, the teams battled into the 10th tied at six. Braves’ reliever Steve Avery breezed through the first two outs before surrendering a walk to Raines on four pitches, which would start the game-winning rally.
The Yanks would eventually load the bases, and Wade Boggs followed with a walk of his own to score Raines and give the Yankees the lead and their seventh unanswered run of the game.
The Braves sent the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the 10th, when Terry Pendleton stroked a deep fly ball to the direction of Tim Raines in left field. Raines got a good beat on the ball to make the catch and preserve the win, although he didn’t make it look easy. The catch sealed the 8-6 win and knotted the series 2-2, shifting the tide of the World Series for good.
1997 ALDS Game One
Yes, this series ended in heartbreak, but this was a huge moment for Raines and the Yankees at the time. David Cone was rocked for six earned runs in just over three innings of work, including five runs in the very first inning. Much like in Game Four of the ‘96 World Series, the Yanks clawed their way back and set up this moment for Raines, who delivered the game-tying home run and set up the making of history.
Jeter followed Raines with a home run of his own, and Paul O’Neill drove yet another home run to straightaway center as the Yankees went back-to-back-to-back (and belly-to-belly-to-belly), marking the first time in baseball history that a team accomplished such a feat in the postseason.
May 19, 1998
The Yankees were in the middle of one of their many special wins against the Orioles in 1998 when Bernie Williams struck a go-ahead home run against reliever Armando Benitez, who showed his anger when firing a fastball directly into the back of Tino Martinez on his next pitch, igniting a furious brawl as the Yankees stood up for their teammate.
Perhaps better than any punch that the Yanks could have landed on Benitez during the fight was the real knockout blow that Raines delivered when play resumed, drilling a home run and blowing the game wide open, giving the Orioles their sixth straight loss. Unfortunately, footage of that home run is as hard to find as the Watergate tapes, so here is the preceding brawl for your viewing pleasure (If you want to see the Raines home run, go find “Season of Their Lives” on VHS).
June 10, 1998
Raines was well beyond his prime by the time he arrived in New York, and no longer the polarizing threat on the bases that he was during the 1980s, when he stole at least 70 bases six years in a row for the Expos. It was against his former team in 1998 when Raines sprinted into the record books, becoming just the fifth player in baseball history to reach 800 stolen bases. Raines would finish his Hall of Fame career with 808 steals.
1996 World Series Game One
Then there was this. It basically summed up this game to a tee.