Eight days ago, Tim Raines achieved baseball immortality. The former Yankees outfielder was officially inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on July 30th. He joined Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Rodrgiuez in Cooperstown. I was lucky enough to catch up with him shortly after his induction. We talked his current training regimen, his favorite moments in pinstripes, and the 2017 Yankees.
Raines knows first-hand how important it is to keep moving and stay active as the years go by, and he wants to continue doing what he loves. He has partnered with Osteo Bi-Flex because they believe in the same things that he does. The brand supports joint comfort and movement. Together Raines and Osteo Bi-Flex want to celebrate movement and help emphasize the importance of staying active.
Tyler Norton: First, I want to thank you for taking time out of a busy summer to sit down for this interview. We saw you in June for Old-Timers’ Day and you looked great! How are you staying active in retirement?
Tim Raines: Well, thanks to Osteo Bi-Flex. They’ve helped me tremendously with my flexibility and my movement. It’s been a godsend.
Obviously when your career is over you don’t want to sit around and do nothing. I’ve been active. I have twin daughters who are six years old and they are very active. I work with minor leaguer players with the Toronto Blue Jays and obviously they challenge me to do a lot of different things. Without Osteo Bi-Flex and the help that it gives me with my joints and my flexibility and my movement, there’s no telling where I’d be right now. But I feel really good thanks to them.
TN: Now before the Old-Timers’ Game, the Yankees and Joe Torre presented you with a pair of seats from the old Yankee Stadium. What did that mean to you, and where are you keeping these seats now?
TR: It meant a lot to me. It meant so much to me. Even though I only played three years in New York, we were able to win two world championships. And I really feel that ‘97 team was just as good as any of the other teams that I was a part of. We didn’t get a chance to go to the World Series; we were beat out by Cleveland with a late-inning home run.
Being a part of New York for those three years was probably the most exciting time of my career. Not only that, but being able to receive two seats from the old Yankee Stadium. That’s a part of history that will never be forgotten. Having a part of that history was generous of the Yankees and the organization.
They’re in my garage, so when I want to chill out, I go hang out in my seat and watch my girls. That’s my little sanctuary where I get to sit down and watch my girls and feel like a part of history.
TN: You’ve had a busy summer, including when you were formally inducted into the Hall of Fame. You gave a touching speech, which featured a segment about Jonah Keri. We at Pinstripe Alley are big fans of his work. Could you talk about how you follow the game? How are you staying connected? Are you reading up on blogs or following along online?
TR: Well, I don’t follow as much as people think I do, but Jonah keeps me in touch. I’m still learning about social media. I’m an old school guy. Our cell phones back in the day couldn’t do anything but make calls. Now cell phones can take pictures, blog, and tweet. I’m a big fan of it, but I don’t utilize it as much as others.
Jonah knows a tremendous amount about the social media aspect of it. Thanks to him, he was a big part of my being selected into the Hall of Fame. I think he got the word out to a lot of the writers who didn’t know about me. Sabermetrics and everything played a big role. He was able to get it out. I think getting 86% of the final vote kind of proves – you know, not just getting in, but getting in decisively – how big social media and Jonah Keri’s campaign were.
Editor’s note: Raines is a great follow on Twitter, @TimRaines30.
TN: You’ve mentioned before that 1996 was “probably the best year of your career to that point.” What made that season so special?
TR: I think being around the players that I was surrounded by, veterans with some great young players. Being in New York, I think New York is probably the best city in baseball. And not only that, being a part of the Yankees, with the history the Yankees have, and all the world championships. Up until that time, the Yankees weren’t really relevant as far as getting to the World Series and winning world championships. That ’96 team is when it started back to that dynasty that we were accustomed to in the early days.
Being a part of that, and being a part of the start of that run that the Yankee had after ’96, was special because that was what I was playing for. I was playing to win world championships. To start it in New York, and do it in New York, and to win it in New York was extra special for me.
TN: Do you see any similarities between the 1996 team and this year’s Yankees?
TR: I see some similarities. You know there are some great young players. I don’t think they have as many veteran players on the team. I think we had some more veteran players in ’96. But I see some great young players and a great staff.
I think the key for them is that the young players continue to evolve and get better and be in the moment and somehow get over the hump. They’re in second place right now, a little lull right now. Aaron Judge – who I think is going to be a Hall of Famer as well, even though this is his rookie season – might be getting a little bit tired now. I think he’s going to get his second wind. Once that happens, and everybody else continues to do what they’re doing, they’ll get back on track. They’re going to get an opportunity to get in the playoffs.
TN: If Judge gets that second wind, look out everybody.
TR: Exactly, exactly. He’s already proven what he can do as a player. Not just a guy who can hit home runs, but he can do a lot of other things. He’s a great defender. He has one of the better arms in baseball and I think people recognize him for that. And with his size, he does some things over the fence and up against the fence, that other guys can’t do.
He’s a great guy. He’s a great player. Young, but he’s a great guy. And I think he has a lot of respect all over baseball for being the type of player that he is.
TN: Looking back on your Yankees’ career, you hit .299 with 18 home runs and 26 stolen bases. What do you recall as your fondest memories from your time in pinstripes?
TR: Oh, just the memories of the players. Winning, obviously two out of three years, it’s hard to beat that. I mean, we actually had a chance to win all three years. Just a winning atmosphere, the clubhouse, the manager. Obviously George, for me, was a great owner. There were some people who didn’t like him because of some of the antics he had, but I loved him.
I loved being around him, being around our staff, and being around the fans as well. I mean, New York fans are certainly different than most others. They love their team, they love their organization, and they love their city. For me, it was just being part of that culture – that surrounding - in New York.
I wasn’t sure when I first went over there if I was ready for it. Once I got in the pinstripes and got going on the field, and we started playing the way we were able to play those three years, it couldn’t have been better. I’m so happy now I had the opportunity to play in New York and to play at the level and to win the championships. Without those three years, I don’t know if my career would have been complete.
TN: Thank you for your time as we wrap this interview up. What’s next for Tim Raines?
TR: Well, I’m going to love going back to Cooperstown until I can’t go anymore. I’m going to love being a part of the growth of my kids, my two daughters, and a couple grandkids. Hopefully I’ll continue to be a part of baseball, in some organization, in some way or fashion. I’m just going to try to enjoy it all.
You know, being inducted into the Hall of Fame is the pinnacle of baseball, and I’ve reached that pinnacle. I just want to enjoy it. I spent my time playing the game, and now I want to enjoy the reward of getting the opportunity to be in the Hall of Fame.
TN: Absolutely. You definitely earned that right to enjoy it. We just we wanted to once again thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us.
TR: It was my pleasure, and thanks for having me.