Tim Raines of course is not going into the MLB Hall of Fame this coming summer as a member of the Baltimore Orioles. Raines played for the Birds for four games at the very end of the 2001 season. And I mean the very end; as in the last four games of the year.
The Orioles consummated a trade with the Montreal Expos for cash considerations in the future to bring the future Hall of Famer to Baltimore – mainly so that he could play alongside his son, Tim Raines Jr., who was in his first season in professional baseball (with the Orioles). Junior patrolled center, while Senior hung out in left.
That was a publicity stunt for sure, however on this day we can truly say that another former Oriole is in the Hall of Fame. However Raines is obviously just another name who played for the Orioles – for a very short period. However it would be unfair to say that Raines was “an Oriole.”
At the time, I supported that “publicity stunt.” And I still do. Baseball is one of the only sports that can provide us with a moment like that. The odds of seeing a father and son playing on the same team in the NFL or in any other sport are pretty slim. At the time, Senior was 42 years old; for the most part, players in other sports don’t make it that far. There are always exceptions, such as George Blanda of the Oakland Raiders, and Robert Parish of the Boston Celtics and Charlotte Hornets.
But also keep in mind that baseball is a sport which at it’s core begins with fathers and sons – having a catch in the backyard. And yes, as far along as the 1980’s when I grew up that was still the case. I think it still is now as well – although there’s no doubt that mothers and sons, mothers and daughters, and fathers and daughters have come a long way. However I would submit that there’s no greater example of that image of fathers and sons than the Orioles.
Orioles fans had the pleasure of watching the various Ripkens in various roles for so long. Cal Sr. of course was the architect of what we know as “The Oriole Way”…and we all know what his oldest son accoplished at the big league level as a player. Not to mention his “other son,” Billy.
So perhaps it was fitting that it was the Orioles who made that moment happening – father and son playing together in the same outfield. It was a moment that even the Ripkens never got to experience. (Although a father managing two of his sons at the big league level is pretty special – and something that’s only happened once, of course!) We hear the moniker “football is family” from the NFL a lot – and I agree in a sense. But perhaps that fits baseball a bit more so than it does football. At it’s core, this game is about fathers and sons.
Incidentally, I found this article in the archives of the Baltimore Sun. It’s from 1999, which is the year I graduated from high school – just to offer some perspective! However it details the forgotten Ripken brother, Fred. At the time, he was coaching his daughter’s softball team. I’ll be honest, I got a real kick out of the part where they talked about how he waves runners home similar to his Dad. At it’s core, this game is about fathers and…their children.