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12/21/07 This Day in Wash...Montreal Baseball History...

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The Continuing Attempt To Keep Montreal History A Part Of DC Baseball...

     On December 21, 2000, the Montreal Expos signed forty-one year old outfielder Tim Raines to a $350,000 dollar deal with incentives, reuniting Mr. Raines with the Expos twenty-three years after they had first drafted the outfielder in the 5th Round of the 1977 Amateur Draft.

     Raines, a lightning-quick switch-hitter out of Sanford, Florida, quickly signed with the Expos and within two years he had made his Major League debut on September 11, 1979. Tim Raines played the next twelve seasons in an Expos uniform.

     "Rock" Raines' first go-round with Montreal ended on December 23, 1990 when the Expos traded Raines, along with Mario Brito and Jeff Carter to the Chicago White Sox for Barry Jones and Ivan Calderon.

     At thirty-one, Raines admitted that the twelve years in Montreal had taken their toll on his legendary legs. In a New York Times article from that December by Murray Chass entitled, "New League For Raines And a New Challenge", Mr. Raines was quoted as saying:

           "I just felt at this time in my career, with the injuries I've
           had the last few years, it was time to get away from
           artificial surface...I like the idea of playing on grass.
           Going to the American League could add some years to
           my career."

     I don't think even Tim Raines thought he'd play twelve more Major League seasons, when he said the move to the AL might "add some years" to his career. After nine seasons with the White Sox, Yankees and A's, Raines returned for the one last season in Montreal, and in the 47 games with the Expos after Mr. Raines resigned in 2000, the forty-one year old hit .308 with 8 doubles, 4 RBI's and 1 steal.

     That one last steal gave Tim Raines 808 career stolen bases, ranking him fifth all-time behind just Ty Cobb, Billy Hamilton, Lou Brock, and Ricky Henderson, the All-Time Leader with 1,406 total career swipes.

     In Raines' twenty-three year MLB career, he combined to hit .294, with 430 doubles, 113 triples, 170 HR's, 980 RBI's and a 162 game average of .294 with 28 doubles, 7 triples, 11 HR's, 63 RBI's and 52 stolen bases.

     The Montreal Expos retired Tim Raines #30, but when the franchise moved to DC they did not keep the Expos' retired numbers as part of their history. The #8 of Gary Carter, #10 of Andre Dawson and Rusty Staub and Raines' #30 are forever remembered in Montreal though, as the Montreal Canadiens and their new mascot Yuppi, the former Expos' mascot, helped raise a banner bearing the numbers in ceremony at the Bell Centre on October 18, 2005...

     Will the Washington Nationals honor their franchise's Expos' history in any way in Nationals Park? Should they? What role should the vagabond past of a franchise that has passed through many hands play in the present and future?

     There has to be some place to honor the contributions of players like Dawson, Raines, Carter, Staub, Vladimir Guerrero, and even Jackie Robinson, whose number 42 is retired throughout baseball, but who actually debuted wearing the #10 in 1945 for the Montreal Royals, the Brooklyn Dodgers Triple-AAA affiliate, on the way to changing history, before Dodgers' owner Branch Rickey finally brought Robinson up to Brooklyn...Here's the footage from Robinson's debut...from the CBC archives...

http://archives.cbc.ca/IDC-1-41-621-3322-10/on_this_day/sports/jackie_robinson

*Montreal Expos/Tim Raines Links*

Murry Chass' New York Times article, "New League For Raines And a New Challenge" from 12/25/90:

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C0CE6DA1139F936A15751C1A966958260

Wikipedia.org's list of MLB Leaders in Career Stolen Bases:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Major_League_Baseball_leaders_in_career_stolen_bases

Anonymous New York Times article entitled, "PLUS: BASEBALL; Raines Agrees To Deal With Expos" from 12/22/00:

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C0DE5DF1738F931A15751C1A9669C8B63

Montreal Expos wikipedia.org profile:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montreal_Expos#Retired_numbers

VIVE LES EXPOS!!!