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McHale took an active hand in helping a young Tim Raines shake free of the curse of cocaine. Raines went on to become one of the best leadoff hitters and baserunners in baseball and is now on the Hall of Fame ballot.
“I owe my entire career to John McHale,” Raines said recently. “It’s more than that. Without him, I wouldn’t have been able to keep going. I grew up. I became a man, thanks to him.”
McHale drove Raines to and from his doctor’s appointments and also babysat his son, Tim Jr.
“I was a young kid,” Raines said. “A lot of GMs, you know, could have kicked me to the curb. I might never have had the chance to be in the big leagues again. I think he realized I was kind of lost.”
McHale explained: “I was emotionally involved because you see a young man being destroyed. Fortunately, Tim Raines had the courage to accept the training and rehab and it turned out be a great victory for him.”
One day in that period McHale, a devout Catholic and a wise man, mused on the responsibility baseball owes to unsophisticated young men: “We pluck these kids out of the backwoods, and suddenly they’re rich, they’re famous, flying around, and pretty girls are saying ‘Here, Tim, try this.’ No wonder they get in trouble. We have almost a parental responsibility to help these kids.”