The Case for Tim Raines' Induction Into Cooperstown

joel kirsteinCorrespondent IJanuary 1, 2010

Outfielder Tim Raines of the Montreal Expos drops his bat and prepares to run.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Here's a little known fact but still a staggering total in its proportion: Did you know only 40 Major League Baseball players in history have reached base 4,000 times? Did you know Tim Raines is one of the 40?

As such Tim Raines deserves induction into the Hall of Fame. Critics argue he was a base stealer and nothing more. He played in Rickey Henderson's distant shadow...Not so! This the case for Tim Raines' induction into Cooperstown

Raines stole over 800 bases (No. 4 all-time), led the National League in stolen bases five times, hit just under .300, drew 1,330 walks, scored 1,571 runs, and the won the National League batting title in 1986. Raines was also the MVP of the 1987 All Star Game.

He overcame an early career drug problem to continue being the dominant National League base stealer, swiping over 70 bases six straight seasons for the Expos in the 1980s. He overcame a late career-threatening bout with Lupus disease to become one of the very rare Major League Baseball players to play in four decades (1979 to 2002).

As a native of Montreal, I grew up seeing the team from day one in 1969 to the very bitter and disappointing end in 2004. I can only hope that history will be more kind to the accomplishments of the Expos who are Hall of Fame-worthy today, than the media was to Expos players that never got their just due recognition while the team was in Montreal.

If Tim Raines does not get into the Hall of Fame its because he played in Montreal and the media bias against Expos players like him, Andre Dawson, Larry Walker, and Vlad Guerrero who went out and did their job and did not actively pursue a media profile like Gary Carter.

The general perception of these Expos player's accomplishments in the baseball media was "if no one sees your greatness, then is it really great after all?" Talk about a double standard...

Had these Montreal Expos played elsewhere in their careers and not in Montreal, Andre Dawson would be in the Hall Of Fame already, Tim Raines would be much more highly regarded for his stats and the staff at Cooperstown would be getting plaques ready for Larry Walker and Vlad Guerrero.

Add in the fact that these Expo players along with future Hall Of Famer Pedro Martinez, all excelled despite playing in the worst possible circumstances and environment in Montreal.

Horrendous ownership that deliberately set the team up to fail and guarantee it being driven out of town. The Montreal media destroying fan support and the worst stadium and playing field in Major League Baseball.

Overcoming these handicaps, Raines' accomplishments are even more deserving of induction into Cooperstown!