HOFer Raines throws out first pitch

HOFer Raines throws out first pitch

CHICAGO -- When Tim Raines signed autographs at Guaranteed Rate Field on Saturday night, he could add the letters HOF -- for Hall of Famer.

"It feels surreal. I'm humbled," said Raines, who was elected to the Hall of Fame this year with 86 percent of the vote in his 10th and final year on the ballot. "It was a long time coming.

"Thank god this is all over. It's been a long road. We finally got to where we were trying to get. I've been enjoying every minute of it since I got that call. Quite proud of my accomplishment.

"This means a lot, not only to me, but to my family name, my biggest fans, anyone that knew me when I was a kid or even when I became a professional player," Raines said. "Just to know that I go in to [the Hall of Fame, which] only 1 percent of all Major League players are able to do that. To have my name alongside the greatest players that ever played the game, it's very humbling."

Raines threw out the first pitch before the White Sox game with the Giants, on a night when his Starting Lineup action figure was the special giveaway. Raines played five of his 23 years with the White Sox and was a coach on the 2005 World Series championship team.

Fans attending Saturday's game got a Tim Raines action figure. (White Sox Charities)

While the man with 808 career stolen bases and 2,605 career hits hasn't paid close attention to the White Sox rebuild, he understands the direction.

"I think it was a year ago, two years ago, when they were in first place for a long time and then kind of down the stretch, they fell off and haven't really been the same since," said Raines, referring to the 2012 season when the White Sox were in first place for 117 days. "Baseball is like that.

"A lot of times, things are going good and you kind of hope they go good for a long time, and then players start moving here and there and free agency [starts] to change teams around. Youth is the way to go right now. When you can start matching up those veteran players with some good young players, that's when things start happening."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.