He owns 2,605 career hits, more career stolen bases than all but three players (all of whom are in the Hall of Fame) and batted .300 or better five times. 2017 will go down as the year Tim Raines was finally recognized as one of the game’s true greats.
In honor of his seven consecutive All-Star selections from 1981-87, here are seven worthwhile Tim Raines baseball cards from early in his career.
1979 TCMA Memphis Chicks
Two years after being selected in the fifth round of the MLB Draft, Raines appeared in the Expos AA affiliate. He actually made his debut with Montreal that season, pinch-running six different times. This set was created by Mike Aronstein’s prolific TCMA as part of their minor league series. It’s already a fairly popular card and when offered on eBay, they’re usually snapped up quickly but a Hall call could push this one significantly higher.
1981 Topps Future Stars (Rookie Card)
Raines also appears on Fleer and Donruss cards in that wild 1981 card collecting season, but the Topps issue remains the one most collectors want. With all due respect to Bobby Pate and Roberto Ramos, the kid from Florida would turn out pretty good. Still considered a prospect when the cards went to press, Raines stole 27 games that season before being caught and wound up with 71, setting a new record. High-grade, encapsulated examples have been pushing upward but this is an easy one to find for a very small investment.
Produced in far less quantity than the Topps issue, the Raines OPC rookie card remains a bargain—and probably a pretty good “penny stock” investment. Of course, Expos fans who grew up on OPC and Raines have gravitated toward this one for years so you’ll have company. High-grade examples are a little scarce because of centering but you can still snare a respectable copy on eBay for next to nothing.
1981 Topps Traded/Update
Raines appears in Topps’ first Update/Traded set, issued 35 years ago this fall. Obviously produced in fewer numbers than his card from the flagship set, this one is among his nicest looking early cards. You’re looking at $300-$400 for a 10 and $50+ for a 9 but there are still plenty of ungraded examples out there, too. There are always a few for sale and auction but the pile isn’t big.
The Canadian department store chain produced a set of 20 three-card panels offering baseball tips to youngsters and Raines tells them how to slide on card #3. Printed in French and English, the Zeller’s sets were abundant at the time and their odd size and focus hasn’t created huge demand but this is the first card that truly focused on Raines’ base stealing skills. You can own a full set, a Raines panel or a single from the panel—for under $10.
1982 Hygrade Expos
Another Canadian regional set, these colorful beauties were distributed one per pack in packages of Hygrade Meats in Quebec. Later, an offer appeared for the whole set of 24. Cards are unnumbered (except for the player’s uniform number on the front). There was also a little blue album made available (“La Collection”). A little hard to find today—especially south of the border—but they still aren’t as expensive as you’d think when you can.
1982 Fleer Rodney Scott #207
Say what? Yes, that’s Rodney Scott’s card in the ’82 Fleer set, but that’s not Rodney. It’s our friend Rock Raines and just one of several boo-boos Fleer made in the first couple of years of production. Raines has his own card in the set (#202) but this one is more fun—even if you have to pay a few cents more than you would if the card pictured, you know, Rodney Scott.