Sunday, May 12, 2013

Tim "The Rock" Raines A Member of the Jerk of Fame.

According to Wikipedia Timothy Raines (born September 16, 1959), nicknamed "Rock", is a former American professional baseball player. He played as a left fielder in Major League Baseball for six teams from 1979 to 2002 and was best known for his 13 seasons with the Montreal Expos. He is regarded as one of the best leadoff hitters and base runners in baseball history. But to this guy he's the jerk that crushed a young boy's dreams. How you ask? Well grab a cold one, a box of Cracker Jacks and sit back and enjoy the story.
      It was a sunny summer day in the early 1980's and my father Virgil decided to treat his three kids to a day in the sun at their favorite place. The old venerable Riverfront Stadium to watch their beloved Cincinnati Reds take on the Montreal Expos. And this day was going to be extra special because he sprung the extra dough for seats in the Blue Seats, which every Reds fan over 25 years old knows were located closest to the field. Little did he know that this special day was going to end in him consoling his only son, me.

    We got to the ballpark early, as was the custom, to take in batting practice.We brought our gloves to try to shag some balls and our pens to try to get some autographs from our heroes. I was especially excited that day because our seats were located in the Blue Seats along the third base line near the visitors dugout. And like I mentioned earlier, the Reds were playing the Montreal Expos. A team that had a bunch of players I respected, like Gary Carter, The Hawk Andre Dawson, and a young lead off batter that was establishing himself as one of the games best in Tim "The Rock" Raines.I could barely contain my excitement when we parked in the garage below the stadium and worked our way up the escalators to the stadium and into the gate. The calls of "Hot Dog's Here," rang through the concourse of the old stadium as we walked to our section. We were fully immersed in the sights and smells that every American knows and associates with that great American Pastime, baseball. It's truly a beautiful thing.
     The usher in charge of our section took the tickets from dad, smiled and said, "your seats are this way." As we followed him down the aisle towards our seats the walls gave way to a great expanse of green shining brilliantly in the midday sun. The sound of the ball cracking off the bat and the loud pop of balls hitting the leather of gloves held by demigods filled my ears. I was in ten year old heaven. We reached our seats and the usher dusted off our seats with a towel then said "There you go, enjoy the game."  My dad gave him a buck, as is the custom and my sisters and father sat down. I looked at my father, and like an unspoken language spoke between father's and son's for a millennium, he smiled and nodded. I turned towards the field and ran down the aisle all the way to the end and took my spot next to the other twenty or so boy's standing there on the third base line with their gloves watching their heroes.
      The Expos were doing their warmups and batting practice. And whenever a player was within earshot of us boy's we would start screaming their names trying to get their attention, and maybe a ball or an autograph. Not much was happening at first, Andre Dawson ignored us. So did Frank Taveras and Warren Cromartie. But then it happened. The Rock himself, Tim Raines came jogging over to all us kids. We were all excited screaming his name. He ran right up to me and said, "Hey kid, you got a pen?" I was dumbfounded but found the words to say," yes I do," and tossed him my pen. He jogged off towards the left field wall with it. I was so excited that Tim Raines even talked to me. But then all the other kids we're pumping me up by saying, "Oh yea, you're going to get an autograph for sure." I was like, "Really you think so?" This was a big deal to me, because at that young age I had never received an autograph, let alone from a superstar of Tim Raines statue. The other kids would say, "Yea you are, he wouldn't borrow your pen without giving you one."  That made perfect sense to me, so I was starting to get excited and was thinking, where in my bedroom was I going to display this monumental piece of baseball history? I was so enamoured by this thought as I stood there staring at Tim Raines  signing balls in left field and tossing them up to some scantily clad ladies. I completely ignored a very young Terry Francona who came by and autographed a bunch of balls for all the kids near me.

   After what seemed like an eternity. Tim Raines finished his last autograph to a blonde girl and tossed it up to her. He turned around and begun running towards me. "This is it kid." Is what the kid standing next to me said. I looked at him with the biggest smile and my heart began to pump so hard I could feel it in my chest. I turned toward the jogging Tim Raines and was thinking. How's he going to sign it? To My Boy Kevin From the Rock Tim Raines? I like that. It would look good next to my Brookville Baseball Championship Trophy.  As he got closer looking right at me, I began to yell "Tim...." Then it happened. He turned his head and tossed the pen at me and kept on going,  the pen hit me in the chest and it dropped to the field. I stood there for a second wondering what just occurred. Then it started to sink in, he borrowed my pen then tried to return it without an autograph not even a "Thank you kid." He used my pen to hit on some ladies who probably couldn't tell you what a double switch is or what the infield fly rule is about. Then with that same pen, he crushed the heart of  young boy who thought he was a superhero.  My smile turned into a frown and tears started to well up in my eyes. I turned and ran to my seat before any of the other kids could see me cry. My dad consoled me the best way he could with ice cream in a mini helmet and rubs on the head and I was smiling by the end of the game, the Reds won. But I left Riverfront Stadium that day a little more jaded and a whole lot less starstruck.

6 comments:

  1. Wow, that really sucks, Kevin. I'm really sorry that happened to you.

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  2. Man, you made lose respect for a childhood baseball idol. Good story!

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  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  4. I personally have known Tim Raines for over 30 years. It started as a fan and became a friendship. I have watched him sign more autographs for kids and pay more attention to fans than any ballplayer I have ever encountered. To publish this for the world to see is an injustice. I am sure you have made one bad decision in your day. I am more sad that you had to publish this to make yourself feel better.

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  5. I agree with the comment above. Tim Raines was a class act after he got through his addiction issues and will always be welcome in Montreal.

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  6. I too consider Raines my baseball idol. I did not get to meet him until 2010. I was in awe too. As I got to know him, I never seen him turn down a fan's request for an autograph. I am sorry this how you remember him. Raines is just as great a guy as he was a ball player.

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