MONTREAL â€” Tim Raines returned to Olympic Stadium as a hero.
The former Montreal Expos outfielder, who was named to the Baseball Hall of Fame in January, got a long, thunderous ovation when he was introduced in a pre-game tribute Friday night before a pre-season game between the Toronto Blue Jays and Pittsburgh Pirates.
Raines was driven in from centre field on a golf cart, waving to Olympic Stadium fans, and was greeted in the infield by former Expos stars Steve Rogers, Warren Cromartie, Jeff Reardon, Bill Lee, David Palmer, Al Oliver and Dennis Martinez.
“I loved coming to the ballpark knowing there would be 30,000 or 40,00 people in the stands,” Raines told the crowd. “You inspired me.”
Earlier Friday, Raines was given the keys to the city by mayor Denis Coderre.
The 57-year-old Raines had to wait until his 10th and final year of eligibility to be elected to the Hall of Fame.
The speedy Florida native nicknamed Rock spent his first 12 seasons in Montreal. He played 2,502 major league games, batting .294 with a .385 on base percentage and 808 stolen bases.
He is to be the third member of the defunct Expos, who moved to Washington in 2004, to enter the Hall after his former teammates Andre Dawson and Gary Carter.
The Canadian Press