He went from magnet to cushion in the Mariners 7-3 win over the Tigers on Tuesday, accidentally deflecting Miguel Olivo's drive over the left-field fence for a second-inning home run.
For some, it rekindled memories of the home run off Jose Canseco's head with the Texas Rangers in 1993. In Raburn's case, though, the ball hit off his glove, and with his momentum going towards the fence, it had much more carry, all the way from the edge of the warning track to the Detroit bullpen.
"Kind of a freak play, really," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland.
After being robbed on two potential shots earlier this month, Olivo gladly took it.
"I think it was God looking out for me and giving me the opportunity to breathe a little bit," Olivo said.
Olivo started the game in the cleanup spot with a .164 average and only one extra-base hit on the season. By the midway point of the game, he had a home run and a double.
After the Tigers grabbed a first-inning lead, Olivo led off the second inning against Phil Coke and hit his drive to left. By all indications, Raburn didn't see where the ball was headed until late. On night games at Comerica Park, the sun sets behind the first-base stands, right into the eyes of the left fielder. This early in the season, the sun sets during the first couple of innings.
It was setting when Olivo hit that ball. Once Raburn seemed to catch a glimpse of it, he retreated towards the fence near top speed before making a leaping attempt.
"He didn't really see the ball," Leyland said. "It was tough to see for him. He didn't see it, and it hit off the heel of his glove and went over the fence. I mean, that's baseball. I don't have any problem with that."
Raburn was not available for comment after the game. His teammates were rather incredulous about the play, but they also tried to put it in perspective.
"I don't know exactly what happened," said Coke, who consoled Raburn in the dugout between innings. "I saw it was [hit to] the one part of the field where there happened to be sun. He was running into it. I saw the ball pop up. I looked at the umpire. He signaled home run. I was like, 'How?'
"Until I actually watched the replay of what happened, I couldn't put two and two together and figure out what happened. I guess it went in and right out of his glove."
Olivo said he hasn't watched the replay -- and doesn't want to.
"This is the first itme I've seen anything like that," he said. "Well, I have seen the Canseco play ..."
Said Tigers catcher Alex Avila: "Normally, it would just kind of ricochet and go one way or the other. Instead, it went straight up. It's a tough break."
When the Tigers came back into the dugout in the middle of the inning, Coke gave Raburn a hug. Avila and others tried to make light of it.
"We still had a little chuckle about it," Avila said. "You don't see that very often. That would happen to Ray."
Olivo was glad that at least another highlight catch didn't happen to him.
"All the balls I hit, everyone catches," Olivo said. "Then I saw the second-base umpire giving the home-run sign, and I said, 'Thank God, my luck has come back.' I just need to keep hitting the ball and see what happens."