Raines, Bell among Canadian Hall inductees
By Matthew Ross / Special to MLB.com
It wasn’t in Cooperstown, but he’ll take it.
Former Montreal Expos star Tim Raines was among the inductees on Saturday into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Mary’s, Ont. Joining Raines in the Hall north of the border were former Blue Jays star and American League MVP Award winner George Bell, Canadian-born former big leaguer Rob Ducey and late Blue Jays broadcaster Tom Cheek.
“This honour means a lot — to be recognized as one of the best,” said Raines, who appeared on 50 percent of the ballots filed by the Baseball Writers of America Association this year, falling short in his sixth attempt at being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Tim Raines played for the Expos, White Sox, Yankees, Marlins and Orioles from 1979-2002. He won a National League batting title, an All-Star Game MVP Award, led the NL in runs scored twice and stolen bases four times. He holds a career .385 on base percentage.
Bell led the AL with 134 RBIs in 1987 and amassed 265 career home runs, playing for the Blue Jays and White Sox during his 12-year career.
“This is a very special honour for me. I never got to win a World Series with the Blue Jays, but I am a Blue Jay inside and out, and I consider myself Canadian,” explained Bell, a native of the Dominican Republic and the 1987 AL MVP Award winner.
Raines and Bell were winter ball teammates in the 1980’s in the Dominican Republic, and again with the White Sox in the 1990’s, while Ducey played with Bell in Toronto and Raines in Montreal.
Nicknamed “Rock,” Raines lamented on the loss of baseball in Montreal.
“Montreal is definitely a baseball city,” he said. “They always showed me that they were true baseball fans.”
Currently, Raines is a roving Minor League instructor with the Blue Jays organization and is married to a Canadian.
When pressed for his most memorable moment aside from winning two World Series rings with the Yankees in 1996 and ’98, Raines recalled his second stint with the Expos.
“The home opener in 2001 was special,” Raines said. “I made the club out of Spring Training and got the loudest and longest standing ovation of my career. The pitcher was so rattled that he walked me on four pitches.”
Ducey played 13 seasons in Major League Baseball, breaking in with the Blue Jays and also playing for the Angels, Rangers, Mariners, Phillies and Expos.
Cheek, a legendary broadcaster to Canadian baseball fans, worked in the booth for the Expos and Blue Jays. From 1977-2004, Cheek broadcast 4,306 consecutive games. He passed away in ’05. Cheek’s family will also be presented with the Ford C. Frick Award next month in Cooperstown.
Cheek’s most memorable call was his description of the Joe Carter’s walk-off homer to win the 1993 World Series, when he said, “Touch ’em all Joe! You’ll never hit a bigger home run in your life!”
Notable former Major League Baseball players on hand for the ceremony included: Steve Rogers, Tom Henke, Bill Atkinson, Paul Spoljaric, Claude Raymond and Adam Stern, as well as former managers Cito Gaston and Jim Fanning, and Blue Jays president Paul Beeston.