Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell, Ivan Rodriguez elected to Hall of Fame

SHARE Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell, Ivan Rodriguez elected to Hall of Fame

FILE - In this June 29, 2013, file photo, former Montreal Expos player Tim Raines poses for a photograph prior to the induction ceremony for the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Mary’s, Ontario. Raines and Jeff Bagwell are likely to be voted into baseball’s Hall of Fame on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, when Trevor Hoffman and Ivan Rodriguez also could gain the honor. (Dave Chidley/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

It took 10 years, but Baseball Writers’ Association of America voters finally bestowed baseball immortality on Tim Raines, electing the former White Sox left fielder to the Hall of Fame in his final attempt.

Raines received 86 percent of the votes cast, well above the 75 percent necessary, and will be joined for enshrinement July 30 by former first baseman Jeff Bagwell (86.2 percent) and former catcher Ivan Rodriguez (76 percent).

Former closer Trevor Hoffman (74 percent) fell five votes short. Former outfielder Vladimir Guerrero also came close (71.7 percent). Former closer Lee Smith, who had 180 of his 478 career saves with the Cubs, got 34.2 percent of the votes in his final year on the ballot.

The switch-hitting Raines, who made his mark with the Expos before playing five seasons with the Sox (1991-95), batted .294 with 2,605 hits — including 713 for extra bases — 1,330 walks, a .385 on-base percentage and 1,571 runs scored in a career that ran from 1979 to 2002.

Raines also played for three Yankees teams, including World Series champions in 1996 and 1998, before finishing his career with the Athletics, Orioles and Marlins.

‘‘We were sitting around waiting for the phone to ring, and when it rang, it was the most excitement I’ve ever had in my career,’’ said Raines, who was with his wife, daughters, his wife’s parents and his agent when the congratulatory call from the Hall came in.

An elite leadoff hitter, Raines stole 808 bases — one of five players to steal more than 800 — and his 84.7 percent success rate is the best of any player with at least 400 attempts. He made seven consecutive All-Star teams (1981-87), is the only player to steal 70 or more

bases in six consecutive seasons and won the National League batting title in 1986 with a .334 average.

Raines, 57, is the only player in major-league history with at least 150 home runs, 100 triples and 600 stolen bases and is the only player with four seasons of at least 50 extra-base hits and 70 stolen bases. He owns a higher career on-base percentage than Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Roberto Clemente.

Raines is the 39th former member of the Sox’ organization to be elected to the Hall.

‘‘On behalf of the entire White Sox organization and our fans, I want to sincerely congratulate Tim on today’s election to the Hall of the Fame, the highest and greatest honor bestowed upon a baseball player,’’ chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said in a statement released by the Sox. ‘‘He played a crucial role on the 1993 division championship team, was a key member of the 2005 World Series-winning coaching staff and provided Sox fans with great memories that will not be forgotten.’’

After falling just short of the 75 percent threshold needed for election with 69.8 percent of the votes last year, Raines was optimistic leading up to this vote.

‘‘I can’t say it was difficult like the first six years because I didn’t even have the votes to be considered for the following year,’’ Raines said. ‘‘The last two years was the telling time. You wonder if you’ll get enough. I was pretty happy about last year, that I was within striking distance.

‘‘This was the first year I lost sleep. Last night was probably the worst night I had in the 10 years . . . because I knew I was close, but I wasn’t sure.’’

But Sox Hall of Famer Frank Thomas, who called Raines the best leadoff hitter of all time, was.

‘‘Rock was one of my favorite teammates ever,’’ Thomas said. ‘‘He made the game fun from night to night and was a great leader in the clubhouse. His humor and hustle always brought the team closer. I’m so glad this has finally happened for one of my favorite people ever.’’

Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, whose careers were tainted by steroids, were passed over for the fifth consecutive year but

received a majority of votes for the first time. Bagwell and Rodriguez also have struggled to overcome speculation about performance-enhancing drugs.

‘‘It means a lot,’’ Rodriguez said. ‘‘Johnny Bench was my favorite player growing up. I can’t wait to see him in July on the same stage when I make my speech. It’s a dream come true.’’

It’s the same for Raines, who in a Twitter statement said he was ‘‘extremely honored and humbled’’ and grateful to family, teammates and media who advocated on his behalf.

‘‘I want to thank the fans from all of the cities that I played in,’’ Raines said. ‘‘You gave me strength and support to do things I did on the field. See you all in Cooperstown this summer.’’

Follow me on Twitter @CST_soxvan.

Email: dvanschouwen@suntimes.com

The vote:

Jeff Bagwell 381 (86.2), Tim Raines 380 (86.0), Ivan Rodriguez 336 (76.0), Trevor Hoffman 327 (74.0), Vladimir Guerrero 317 (71.7), Edgar Martinez 259 (58.6), Roger Clemens 239 (54.1), Barry Bonds 238 (53.8), Mike Mussina 229 (51.8), Curt Schilling 199 (45.0), Lee Smith 151 (34.2), Manny Ramirez 105 (23.8), Larry Walker 97 (21.9), Fred McGriff 96 (21.7), Jeff Kent 74 (16.7), Gary Sheffield 59 (13.3), Billy Wagner 45 (10.2), Sammy Sosa 38 (8.6), Jorge Posada 17 (3.8), Magglio Ordonez 3 (0.7), Edgar Renteria 2 (0.5), Jason  Varitek 2 (0.5), Tim Wakefield 1 (0.2), Casey Blake 0, Pat Burrell 0, Orlando Cabrera 0, Mike Cameron 0, J.D. Drew 0, Carlos Guillen 0, Derrek Lee 0, Melvin Mora 0, Arthur Rhodes 0, Freddy Sanchez 0, Matt Stairs 0.

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