Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell, and Ivan Rodriguez achieved baseball immortality on Wednesday when they were elected into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. While Raines and Bagwell were unsure of their chances, Raines was on his 10th ballot while Bagwell was on his seventh, Rodriguez had very little time to wonder as he was voted in on his first ballot.
There’s plenty of controversy surrounding the election every year, and while there’s criticism regarding who didn’t get in, these three guys were more than worthy of their selections. Raines received 86.0 percent of votes, Bagwell 86.2 percent, and Pudge 76.0 percent, just above the required 75.0 mark.
An incredible amount can be said about all three of these guys, but I’m here to talk about the time Raines and Pudge spent in pinstripes. Rains and Rodriguez brings the total of players, managers, or executives in the Hall of Fame who represented the New York Yankees to an astounding 57. Both of their times in pinstripes were brief, but Yankee fans are still happy with Wednesday’s announcement.[Milkins]
Tim “Rock” Raines
Let’s start with Raines. Rock was traded to New York on December 28th, 1995, and while his career was waning at that time, he found himself part of a historic run that Yankee, and baseball, fans will never forget. Raines earned two World Series rings with New York in 1996 and 1998.
At 36-years-old, he missed a lot of games with the Yankees, but he contributed to the loose atmosphere that the Yankee dynasty of the late 1990’s were known for. In 242 games across three season, Rock batted .299 with 18 homers and 26 stolen bases.
Aside from the World Series rings, Raines had some memorable moments with the Yanks. On June 10th, 1998 against the Montreal Expos, Raines stole the 800th base of his career. In doing so he joined one of the most elite clubs in baseball, becoming just the third player to reach the 800 mark.
His time with the Yankees was all too short, but it earned him two World Series rings and with them memories that he could never forget. He’ll undoubtedly don a Montreal Expos hat at his induction ceremony in July, but Raines will forever be remembered by Yankee fans as a member of one of the greatest dynasties of all-time.
Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez
Pudge was traded to the Yankees for relief pitcher Kyle Farnsworth on July 20th, 2008. The 14-time All-Star was brought to New York after Yankees’ starting catcher Jorge Posada had season-ending surgery. The trade brought excitement to an otherwise forgettable year for the Yankees, who would end up missing the playoffs for the first time in 15 years.
However Pudge’s time in pinstripes was merely a cameo, as he only started 26 of the remaining 55 games of the 2008 season, splitting time with back-up catcher Jose Molina. In 33 games, he collected 21 hits, two homers, and three RBI. He made sure to show New York that he is one of the greatest catchers of all-time before he left, gunning down seven runners and maintaining a .995 fielding percentage.
Playing for the Yankees is just a side note to a legendary career for Rodriguez, who became just the second catcher to be voted into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot, joining Johnny Bench. With his induction he will become the youngest Hall of Famer at 45-years-old, just one month younger than Pedro Martinez.
Pudge did it all in his time in the majors. He debuted as a teenager with the Rangers in 1991, and went on to become the only Major Leaguer to win 13 Gold Gloves and have a career batting average of at least .295. His 2,844 hits, 311 homers, and 1,332 RBI rank among the best catchers of all-time.[Kenny2]
Despite Jorge Posada falling off the ballot in just his first year, and Mike Mussina missing out once again, Yankee fans should be happy with the outcome of the election. Tim Raines, Ivan Rodriguez, and Jeff Bagwell have joined the elite, and their plaques will be in Cooperstown come July.