Tim Raines made it a point to travel to Cooperstown to witness the Hall of Fame inductions of former teammates Gary Carter and Andre Dawson, but he’d never really had the museum experience until earlier this year. He finally got that during what he called an “orientation” after being voted in on his 10th and final appearance on the ballot.
“My goal was to go down and see Babe Ruth’s bat and put it in my hands and I actually got to do that, so that was a great feeling,” Raines said Sunday before participating in the Old-Timers’ Day festivities at Yankee Stadium. “I didn’t realize how big a bat that guy had. It wasn’t that heavy, but it was a huge bat . . . Holding the bat of a Hall of Famer and probably one of the greatest players to play the game, it’s something that, even for ex-players, is something special.”
Raines played a trio of seasons in pinstripes — he was a part of the 1996 and 1998 World Series title teams — and called his stretch in New York “the best three years of my baseball career.” This was the second time he participated in the annual game, this year won 2-1 by the Clippers over the Bombers.
Since his election was announced in January, Raines has enjoyed being feted at appearances.
“I was on the ballot my 10th and last year, and to be able to say I am a Hall of Famer now is a blessing,” he said. “I’m humbled.”
Raines is joined in this year’s induction class by Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Rodriguez. They will be enshrined July 30. Also going in are John Schuerholz, who was the Atlanta Braves’ general manager as they reached 14 straight postseasons, and former commissioner Bud Selig.
“It’s real, but it’s still not going to settle in until I get there,” Raines said. “I think about it all the time. I think about the speech and the induction itself. I think about the past. I think about what it took to get to this point and it’s unbelievable.
“It wasn’t really a dream, but the reality is . . . special.”