MIAMI -- Among all that newly inducted Hall of Famer Tim Raines accomplished in his 23-year storied career, nothing quite stands out like his final season, a memorable one he spent with the Marlins.
Although he was largely reduced to a pinch-hitting role with a few occasional starts sprinkled in much like Ichiro Suzuki this year, Raines said his final season in 2002 was one he would forever be thankful for.
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"They gave me an opportunity to finish my career. I knew it was gonna be my last year," said Raines, who was born and raised near Orlando in Sanford, Fla. "The Marlins gave me an opportunity to play in my home state to finish my career out. To finish it out here in Miami was a dream come true for me."
Fifteen years later, the Marlins honored Raines' induction into Cooperstown last month with a pregame ceremony prior to Saturday night's contest against the Rockies.
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Raines' former teammate in Montreal, fellow Hall of Famer Andre Dawson, who also finished his career in Miami, and Marlins president David Samson presented him with a canvas. Raines then threw out the ceremonial first pitch with his family watching.
"It's been awesome. It's very humbling," Raines said about the whole induction process. "Not only to have the opportunity to become a Hall of Famer but to get the opportunity to be in a situation that you remember forever, that's a part of history."
Saturday didn't mark the first time Raines had stepped foot on the field at Marlins Park. He participated in this year's MLB All-Star Legends and Celebrity Softball Game as part of MLB All-Star Weekend. He played at Pro Player Stadium, the Marlins' old home, in 2002.
What made his night even sweeter was the chance to catch up with his ex-teammates. Raines, Dawson and Marlins bench coach Tim Wallach all played together on the Expos in the 1980s. Raines also met up with Tony Perez, who serves as a special assistant to Samson.
"It's good to be back. Not only that but to come back and see some of the players that weren't around when I was here last time," Raines said. "Tim Wallach, one of my best friends in baseball. We came up through the system together and played 11 years together. So it was good. I haven't seen him in a long time."
Patrick Pinak is a reporter for MLB.com based in Miami. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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