Tim Raines was one of the best contact hitters of his generation. Not only a feared leadoff batter, he was even more dominant on the base paths. An all-time favorite with Canadian baseball fans, Raines found World Series success during his time with the New York Yankees. Check out some of the best Tim Raines baseball cards including three of his key rookies from 1981.
Raines' career spanned parts of four decades from 1979 to 2002 and he is best known for his 13 seasons with the Montreal Expos. He set a rookie record with 71 steals in his first season and finished second in NL Rookie of the Year voting behind Fernando Valenzuela. Building on that strong start, Raines made seven consecutive All-Star teams and totaled at least 70 steals in each season from 1981 to 1986.
After leaving the Expos, Raines bounced around to several teams, finding success with the Yankees and winning World Series titles in 1996 and 1998. Raines later had his jersey retired by the Expos and he was elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2013. Possible election to Cooperstown in the near future will forever solidify his place as one of the best leadoff hitters in baseball history.
It is interesting to note that while Raines was recovering from shoulder surgery in 2001, he was assigned to the Expos AAA-team, the Ottawa Lynx. During a game against the Rochester Red Wings, he actually played against his son—Tim Raines Jr. It was the first time that a father and son had ever played against each other in a professional game. Collectors can find Tim Raines Jr.'s rookie card in 1999 Bowman Chrome and he appeared regularly in sets through 2004.
For fans of cards made for the Canadian market, there is a three-card panel, including Raines, in 1982 Zellers. This set was created by a chain of discount stores. In 1985 Donruss Leaf, Raines is featured on a painted "Canadian Greats" card that was done by famous baseball artist Dick Perez. Meanwhile, 1989 Topps marked the start of listing Raines with his nickname, "Rock," instead of Tim.
Many of the Tim Raines cards from his playing days are available to collectors at budget-friendly prices, however, he does have several cards which attract high prices. In formulating the list, card value was used as a key component along with the availability of the cards to the collector and each entry's design.
Top 10 Tim Raines Baseball Cards
Click on the card titles or images to shop for specific cards on eBay. Linked sets in the descriptions go straight to product profiles.
Raines shares a 1982 Topps leaders card with his AL stolen base champ counterpart, Rickey Henderson. Henderson was the only player more dangerous on the base paths than Raines was during his time with the Expos. While Henderson was leading the American League in steals, Raines won four consecutive NL stolen base crowns from 1981 to 1984. His career total of 808 stolen bases is good for fifth place in MLB history.
Collectors were not able to find 1982 Kellogg's 3-D Super Stars cards in boxes of cereal. Instead, complete sets could only be obtained through a mail-in offer that required some box tops. Like most of the Kellogg's 3-D sets, the cards frequently curl over time and often require a toploader to keep their proper shape. The reverse side of the card provides an extensive write-up on Raines' short career to that point. It also mentions that he set a rookie record for steals even though he lost 54 games to a player's strike.
This oddball vinyl release is from the 1982 Perma-Graphics Super Star Credit Cards set. The Raines card was made to resemble an actual credit card, even including a signature panel on the reverse side. Originally introduced in 1981, Perma-Graphics produced two sets in '82: the All-Star Credit Cards and Super Star Credit Cards. The Super Star set also features a more limited edition that displays a gold background on the back.
For Montreal Expos fans, 2014 Topps Triple Threads has several Tim Raines autograph options. In the card shown below, the die-cut jersey relics spell out "Head 1st," which was the sliding style that Raines used when swiping bases. His top season was in 1983 when he had 90 stolen bases. Overall, he successfully stole about 85% of the bases he attempted to steal during his career.
Raines also has more signed cards, including versions with his other teams, that are in decent supply.
Beginning with 1989 Topps, Topps used Tim's nickname of "Rock" on his flagship cards through 1992 Topps. This also includes 1991 Topps Desert Shield, which is identical to the main 1991 Topps set that year with the exception of the gold foil stamp designating that it was made for military personnel taking part in Operation Desert Shield. Raines' card features a perfectly timed photograph immediately after he made contact with the pitch. You can even see his bat slightly bending from the impact with the ball.
Eagle-eyed collectors might notice that the card below has slightly different colors than the typical examples found in 1985 Topps. That is because this is the mini version of the 1985 set. Developed by O-Pee-Chee, it was printed on white cardboard which creates the color differences. However, the entire '85 Topps set is not available in the mini version. Instead, only 132 options from throughout the checklist were selected and the Raines card was one of them. Although the very limited test set was never officially released, many cards made it to the secondary market and examples have also been found with a blank back.
Raines was selected by the Expos in the fifth round of the 1977 MLB Draft and he spent three season in the minors before his major league debut in 1979. Although Raines wouldn't have a major league card until 1981 Topps, he was included in a minor league set issued by TCMA. Raines is featured as a member of the Memphis Chicks, which was the Expos AA-team, where he batted .290 with 59 stolen bases over 145 games.
The first of three Raines rookie cards included on this list comes from the premiere Donruss set in 1981. The set is notorious for errors in the first printing that were later corrected, creating some pricey variations. Despite this, Raines' rookie card seems to have escaped without any issues. Staring directly into the camera with a bat on his shoulder, Raines has a very serious expression on his face which makes for a unique look compared to his other baseball card appearances.
While Raines was featured on a multi-player card in the regular 1981 Topps set—more on that in a moment—he was also featured on his own card in 1981 Topps Traded. Topps numbered the Traded set as if it was really a high-number series (#727 to #858), with Raines sitting at #816 on the checklist. But the set wasn't issued in packs and was instead only available for purchase at hobby shops as a complete 132-card set in a bright red box. Raines' card is the highlight of the Traded set.
Raines shares his multi-player Future Stars card from 1981 Topps with Expos prospects Roberto Ramos and Bobby Pate. Both players had limited major league careers and are arguably best known for sharing Raines' rookie. While he is listed as playing second base, Raines spent most of his career in left field, retiring with an impressive .988 fielding percentage at the position. Both of the Topps Tim Raines rookie cards from 1981 are popular with collectors and perfect gem-mint copies of either version can exceed $300 at auction. There is also an O-Pee-Chee version from the Canadian market with card number 136.