Tim Raines was the first name that came to mind when I started to consider subjects for this Day 4 of my 2019 Spring Training Challenge — you know, the one where I write about a player with a “spring name.”
But that’s pretty predictable, and I’ve written about Raines on a few occasions in the past. One of my goals for this series is to tap into the stories of guys who don’t get a lot of attention … or at least haven’t gotten much attention here on Wax Pack Gods.
So I went back to the drawing board and began rolling through my mental Rolodex, trolling back through the years. 1990 … 1989 … 1988 … 1987 … 1986 … 1985 … 1984 … bingo!
During the summer of 1984, I made my first visit to Riverfront Stadium to see my Cincinnati Reds play. But the Riverfronts were pretty putrid that year, so I spent much of the hot months watching (and loving) the upstart Chicago Cubs.
I grew very familiar with those purple-block-lettered Cubs cards in the 1984 Topps set, and one of the guys who seemed to pop up all the time was Chuck Rainey.
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I didn’t really realize it at the time, but Rainey had spent the first several years of his career with the Boston Red Sox before they shipped him to the Cubs in exchange for Doug Bird in December of 1982.
The following year was one of his best and the only time he spent all season as a full-time starter. Toiling for a 1983 Cubs team that went 71-91, Rainey posted a 14-13 record with a 4.48 ERA. And much to my chagrin — now, because I didn’t know about it then — Rainey also one-hit the Reds on August 24, with Eddie Milner recording a two-out single in the ninth to break up the thing.
Take that, Mr. Spring Name (although, in truth, I’d have been rooting for the no-hitter at that point).
But with the Cubs off to the races in 1984, and with the addition of eventual Cy Young winner Rick Sutcliffe, Rainey became expendable. So on July 15, general manager Dallas Green sent Rainey and (eventually) Damon Farmar to the Oakland A’s for Davey Lopes.
In Oakland, Rainey posted a 1-1 record with a 6.75 ERA in 16 appearances … and was never heard from again.
Well, not as a professional baseball player, anyway.
Apparently Donruss did not get the memo that Rainey was done, though, and they granted him card #618 in their iconic black-bordered 1985 set.
No wonder he looks so self-important on that ’85 Donruss A’s card. Or is he challenging us … daring us to flip that card over?
“Go ahead. Take a look. It’s all there.”
And it was. And is.
Which goes to show, no matter how rainy, or Rainey, a Major League career turns out to be, it’s still a Major League career.
And that’s pretty darn sunny in my book.
Check out the entire series of 2019 Spring Training Challenge posts here.