CHICAGO -- Tim Raines played a part in the White Sox 2005 World Series championship as a first-base and baserunning coach, returning to the team for which he played from 1991-95.That accomplishment was all about the team, quite possibly the greatest moment in franchise history. But Wednesday was all about
CHICAGO -- Tim Raines played a part in the White Sox 2005 World Series championship as a first-base and baserunning coach, returning to the team for which he played from 1991-95.
That accomplishment was all about the team, quite possibly the greatest moment in franchise history. But Wednesday was all about Raines, the individual, as the switch-hitting outfielder who played 23 big league seasons joined Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Rodriguez as part of the class of 2017 elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Those three players will take their place among the game's legends in Cooperstown, N.Y., on July 30, along with Commissioner Emeritus Bud Selig and Braves vice chairman John Schuerholz.
:: 2017 Hall of Fame election results ::
"On behalf of the entire White Sox organization and our fans, I want to sincerely congratulate Tim on today's election to the Hall of the Fame, the highest and greatest honor bestowed upon a baseball player," said Jerry Reinsdorf, chairman of the Chicago White Sox. "He played a crucial role on the 1993 division championship team, was a key member of the 2005 World Series-winning coaching staff and provided Sox fans with great memories that will not be forgotten."
Raines was in his 10th and final year on the ballot. He received 86 percent of the vote; 75 percent is required for induction. Raines jumped from 55 percent in 2015 to 69.8 percent in '16 and then into the Hall of Fame.
"This was probably the first year that I lost sleep, when you know it's your last year," said Raines, who will be the 39th member of the White Sox inducted to the Hall of Fame. "I knew I was 23 votes away, I was hoping that all the guys who voted for me last year would continue to vote for me and I could get the extra votes. I'm a happy man. I'm not even thinking about what happened the last nine years."
"Rock was one of my favorite teammates ever," said Hall of Famer and White Sox legend Frank Thomas in a statement from the team. "He made the game fun night to night and was a great leader in the clubhouse. His humor and hustle always brought the team closer. I'm so glad this has finally happened for one of my favorite people ever."
After spending 13 standout years in Montreal, Raines was traded to the White Sox on Dec. 23, 1990, in a five-player deal sending Ivan Calderon and Barry Jones to the Expos. Raines served as a catalyst at the top of the White Sox order on the 1993 American League West champions, proving himself as one of the game's greatest all-time leadoff hitters, up there with Rickey Henderson.
"Oh, yeah, absolutely. Now, Rickey will tell you 'No, that he doesn't [compare],'" said White Sox executive vice president Ken Williams with a laugh. "But he's one of the most dynamic and exciting players to put on a uniform. Period."
Williams got to know Raines as both a player and coach with the White Sox.
"One of the most exciting players I've ever had the pleasure of being on the same field with," Williams said.
:: 2017 Hall of Fame election coverage ::
Raines picked up 808 career stolen bases, having been caught only 146 times, to go with his .294 average, .385 on-base percentage and .810 OPS. Lost in Raines' leadoff excellence was his 170 home runs and 980 RBIs.
"No. 1, the man could hit from both sides of the plate. People talk about his baserunning all the time, but the man could hit," Williams said. "Just when you think that he was going to slap a ball to the opposite field so that he could get on base and run, he could surprise you and pop one in the gap or out of the ballpark.
"He dominated. He led off on a very good team, a very exciting team, a team that you tuned in to watch no matter where you were in the country. If the Montreal Expos came on, you tuned in to watch."
Magglio Ordonez, who played from 1997 to 2004 with the White Sox and hit .307 with 187 homers for the South Siders, received three votes but did not get the 5 percent needed to stay on the ballot. Mike Cameron and Orlando Cabrera were the other players with White Sox ties on this year's ballot but neither received a vote.
Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.