(CBS) As Tim Raines heads for the Hall of Fame — finally getting his call in January — he still holds a great regret from his career.
It was a regret out of his control and one still on the minds of many White Sox fans. It was the 1994 strike-shortened season that held great promise on Chicago’s south side. The White Sox were leading the AL Central at 67-46, and Raines was envisioning the chance to face his former team, the 74-40 Expos, in the World Series. He never got that shot.
Raines looked back on that short season Thursday while joining the Spiegel & Goff Show on 670 The Score.
“I loved the chance to go to Chicago,” Raines said. “We had some good years. We didn’t get the chance to go to the World Series. But I played with some great young players. We put ourselves in position to get there, we just didn’t get there.
“The majority of guys knew (the strike) was going to happen, but because of the playoffs and World Series, we would have a chance to come back. That didn’t happen. But during that whole time, I felt like if we could finish this season, there was a chance that I’d actually get to go back to Montreal and play in a world championship. I really seriously thought that could happen.
“People were talking about the Expos like they were the best team that was ever assembled. But we had a team in Chicago that could play with anyone. I was hoping that we would’ve gotten that chance.”
Raines had a 24-year major league career that ended with his retirement in 2002 at the age of 42. He finished with an on-base percentage of .385 and 808 stolen bases, including 90 in 1983. His 808 steals rank fifth all-time.
Nicknamed “Rock,” Raines was a seven-time All-Star who won three World Series titles, including two as a player with the Yankees.
Raines is still remembered fondly for his five seasons with the White Sox. He arrived in 1991 as the key piece to their young core, the accomplished veteran joining a rising group of players.
“I was supposed to be the guy to get them over the hump, to get an opportunity to go to the World Series,” Raines recalled.
The White Sox won the AL West in 1993, then sat in first place of the newly established AL Central in 1994. They appeared poised for a deep run in the playoffs. Raines still wonders what could’ve happened if not for the strike.
“I just felt like a lot of people said (the Expos) were good, but that team we had, we were a solid ball club,” Raines said. “We had the pitching, we had the defense, we had the offense, we had speed. We had everything.
“I would’ve loved to have that opportunity.”