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Baseball Hall of Famer Tim Raines was a ‘special player,’ Joe Torre says

Yankees outfielder Tim Raines at spring training on

Yankees outfielder Tim Raines at spring training on Feb. 23, 1997. Photo Credit: Newsday / Paul Bereswill

BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. — There was a time when Tim Raines was considered an elite leadoff hitter, right at the top of the charts with Ricky Henderson.

By the time he was traded to the Yankees as a 36-year-old before the 1996 season, he still had some pop and some speed but he was no longer near his prime.

He did hit .285 with a .374 on-base percentage the year before as the White Sox’s starting leftfielder, though, and the trade forced him to become a role player who appeared in just 59 games.

With Raines set to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this weekend, Joe Torre reflected on his contributions to the 1996 World Series winner.

“He comes to our ball club and certainly wasn’t washed up by any stretch of the imagination and he just took on whatever role we needed him to play,” Torre said Thursday afternoon before his Safe at Home Foundation’s charity golf outing.

“That was really an indication of what made us so good is that there was a lot of unselfishness. Nobody really cared to get the spotlight. I’m really tickled for his induction into the Hall of Fame because he was a special player. A lot of stuff that you didn’t see about Tim Raines was that clubhouse influence he had.”

Raines will be inducted alongside Jeff Bagwell, Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, John Schuerholz and Bud Selig. In his 10th and final year on the ballot, Raines finally surpassed the requisite 75 percent, appearing on 86 percent of ballots.

“I’m excited for Tim,” former Yankees catcher Jorge Posada said. “I’m excited for Pudge. I’m friends with Pudge for a long time. I’m very happy that he’s going in, well-deserved. Tim Raines, it took a little bit, but at the end of the day he’s there. He was one of my favorite teammates of all time, so I’m happy for him.”

Raines ranks fifth all-time with 808 stolen bases. The seven-time All-Star hit .294 with a .385 on-base percentage, 2,605 hits, 430 doubles and 1,571 runs scored.

By advanced statistics, his Hall of Fame case was much stronger. Raines’ career 66.4 wins above replacement is tied with Manny Ramirez for 32nd all-time among outfielders.

“Some of the new metrics and sabermetrics have really helped him,” David Cone said. “I know that some of the people in that industry really got behind Tim and gave him a push at the end. To get in in his last year is pretty remarkable.”

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