A 2017 Hall of Fame inductee, Tim “Rock” Raines played 23 full seasons in Major League Baseball and in 24 seasons total.
A seven-time All-Star, Raines led all his league in stolen bases four times, runs twice and doubles and on-base percentage each once. He also won the 1986 National League batting title, Silver Slugger and the 1987 All-Star Game MVP. Raines retired with more than 2,600 career hits and as one of just five players to steal 800 career bases.
While his best seasons were with the Montreal Expos, Raines also played for the Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics and Baltimore Orioles. His final season, however, came in 2002 with the Florida Marlins. His final game came on this day 20 years ago.
After announcing his retirement the day prior, Raines got the start in left field as the Marlins concluded the season against the Philadelphia Phillies on Sept. 29, 2002, at Pro Player Stadium. Juan Encarnacion’s walk-off sacrifice fly ended the game in 10th, but for Raines, it was one last chance to play the game of baseball. He went out a winner as Florida prevailed, 4-3.
Honored before the game, Raines struck out in the first but recorded the final hit of his big-league career in the third – a single to right-centerfield. In what would be his final at-bat, Raines flied out in the fourth. Raines’ final appearance lasted five innings as he was replaced in the outfield by Abraham Nunez in the sixth.
As for the contest, most of the offense came early. Philadelphia scored two runs in the second on RBI singles from Ricky Ledee and Doug Glanville. The Marlins answered with two in the bottom half of the inning on an RBI single from Mike Mordecai and an RBI triple from starting pitcher Carl Pavano.
Placido Polanco’s RBI single in the third put the Phillies back in front before Andy Fox responded with an RBI single of his own in the bottom of the fourth to draw Florida even, 3-3. The teams would trade zeroes for the next five innings.
After Braden Looper worked a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the 10th, Florida finally prevailed in the bottom half. Luis Castillo’s third hit of the day got the frame started. Castillo stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch.
After Nunez struck out looking, Encarnacion popped a Hector Mercado pitch behind first. Philadelphia’s Travis Lee made the catch going toward the stands, but with his back turned, Castillo was able to take home for the winning run.
Perhaps channeling his inner-Raines, Castillo finished with three stolen bases in the win to finish as baseball’s leader with 48 steals. The Marlins and Phillies both said goodbye to the 2002 season, but it was baseball that said goodbye to a legend in Raines. His final game came on this day two decades ago.