MONTREAL â€” Based on ballots made public this week by American sports writer Ryan Thibodaux, former Montreal Expo Tim Raines could pull off a rare feat on Wednesday.
Being named to the Baseball Hall of Fame is exclusive enough â€” only 217 players have done it â€” but being elected in his 10th and last year on the ballot is even more of a rarity.
Ralph Kiner, Jim Rice and Red Ruffing are the only players elected into the Hall in Cooperstown, N.Y. in their last year of eligibility.
Rice and Ruffing made it in their 15th year, which from 1963 to 2014 was the longest a name was allowed to appear on the ballot. It has since been cut to 10 years. Kiner was in his 13th year when he got the nod in 1975, as there was no vote held in 1963 and 1965.
One player took more than 15 years. Dazzy Vance was elected in his 16th year in 1955.
John Thorn, official historian for Major League Baseball, said Raines may have been passed over for the Hall of Fame in previous years due to old benchmarks that have since evolved.
“In the case of Raines, voters may have been slow to recognize his extraordinary on base percentage, a statistic which was not kept officially when he commenced his career,” Thorn said. “Today OBP is not only an official MLB statistic but also one that is highly regarded, especially for a leadoff batter.
“Among leadoff hitters since 1970, only Rickey Henderson has a higher lifetime mark than Raines. When taken into account with Raines’s accomplishments in more traditional measures â€” stolen bases and batting average, for example â€” his candidacy for the Hall of Fame may well have tended to look better as the years passed by and younger writers gained the Hall of Fame vote.”
Raines may pull off another rare accomplishment â€” being elected with more than 90 per cent of the vote. As of Tuesday morning, Thibodaux had seen more than half the voters’ ballots and 89.7 per cent had checked off Raines’ name. Only 32 players have ever drawn that many votes. The most recent was Ken Griffey Jr. in 2016 with a record 99.3 per cent.
Frederic Daigle, The Canadian Press