Tim Raines has been one of my favorite players ever since I started paying attention to baseball in the mid to late eighties. If I recall correctly, I first truly became aware of Raines on May 2, 1987. After being one of the very best players in the National League in 1986, Raines was a free agent. He was 27 years old and one of the best players in baseball. Yet no team other than the Expos made him a serious contract offer. This was the famous summer of collusion, when owners banded together to try to limit free agent contracts. Tim Raines and Andre Dawson were probably the two most famous cases of collusion.
Due to a silly rule, because Raines didn’t resign with the Expos by January 8, 1987, he was ineligible to resign with them until May 1. Since no other teams made a real offer, Raines completely sat out Spring Training and the first month of the season. He finally resigned with the Expos on May 1. He made his season debut on May 2, and what a debut it was! He went 4 for 5 with a triple and a game winning grand slam in the 10th inning. It has to be one of the most badass games in baseball history. To miss spring training and the first month of the season due to collusion by the owners, to be put in the third spot in the batting lineup against David Cone the day after signing his contract, and then to have a day like that. The immortal Vin Scully called the game for NBC (which is the first regular season game I can remember watching, though I’m sure I watched some before that). As Raines rounded the bases, Scully said “Would you believe a grand slam for Tim Raines? That has to be one of the most incredible stories of the year in any sport!”
I was thrilled when Raines signed with the White Sox after the 1991 season. He never quite reached his Expos heights while he was with the Sox, but he was still a very good player. He was also very fan friendly. After one game against the Angels, he tossed me one of his wristbands as he entered the dugout. He also signed many autographs for me during batting practice of various Sox@Angels games.
Somebody posted a Raines cards-only signing on SCN for a pretty reasonable price, so I got 6 cool cards done. I don’t need Raines for any sets or anything, as I got all of those done ages ago. But I really like how these cards turned out.