New Hall of Famer Raines once eyed Gators football career
Tim Raines could have been a Florida Gator running back rather than one of baseball's newest Hall of Famers.
Starring in football and baseball at Sanford's Seminole High, while also running track, Raines wasn't sure which sport to pursue. Drafted in the fifth round by the Montreal Expos as a switch-hitting shortstop in 1977, he decided to give baseball a chance first.
"When this journey first started, I wasn't really sure baseball was the sport I should have chosen,'' Raines said on a Hall conference call Wednesday night. "I figured I would start out at a young age and see if I was good enough to stay in baseball. I was going to give myself actually two years. Give myself two years, see what happened. If things worked out I would continue to play baseball. If things didn't work out I was going to walk on at the University of Florida and play football.
"My dream as a kid was to be in the NFL. Fortunately, that didn't work out. And, thank God, baseball ended up being the sport that I chose.''
Raines was quite the high school athlete, per the Orlando Sentinel, rushing for 1,000 yards in just eight games while scoring 18 touchdowns, stealing home 10 times, setting school records in the hurdles and long jump.
Those first two years went okay, as Raines, who signed at age 17, hit .280 with a .381 OBP for the Gulf Coast Leage Expos in 1977 and .287 with a .400 OBP for the West Palm Beach Expos in the advanced Class A Florida State League. He moved up to Double-A Memphis in 1979 and by the end of the season had made his big-league debut.