01/02/11 12:00 PM EST
Alomar confident he'll make Hall this time
Second baseman fell eight votes shy in his first year on ballot
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
Roberto Alomar is confident that he'll make it to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in the Class of 2011. The 10-time Gold Glove Award-winning second baseman barely missed the cut by eight votes on his first ballot attempt last year."I hope he gets in, he deserves to get in," said his older brother, Sandy Alomar Jr., a former big league catcher and a coach for the Indians when reached at his home in Chicago recently. Earlier this year, the younger Alomar finished with 73.7 percent of the vote cast by eligible members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Right-hander Bert Blyleven had 74.2 percent, missing by only five votes in a year when outfielder Andre Dawson was the only player elected by the BBWAA.
A player's name must appear on at least 75 percent of the ballots. The Class of 2010 was announced on Jan. 6. Alomar, a 12-time All-Star, was surprised at the time that he didn't make it."What can you do, it's out of my hands now?" Alomar said. "I [was] disappointed, but I feel good. Sometimes the writers have reasons not to vote for you. So you just have to deal with the situation. I had a lot of votes." He and Blyleven should be a certainty this time around, noting that no player has ultimately missed after receiving 70-74.9 percent of the vote. Blyleven will be on the ballot for the 14th time and Alomar the second. A player can remain on the BBWAA ballot for a maximum of 15 years. There may have been several reasons why Alomar didn't make it in his first year. Sandy Jr., a six-time All-Star catcher himself, pointed toward the infamous 1996 incident in which the younger Alomar spat in the face of home-plate umpire John Hirschbeck. "What else can it be?" Sandy Jr. said. "I can't believe it, because everyone thought he was going to be in. These days you can't drop the ball in any shape or form. If the writers are going to make an example out of Robbie, they better do it for everybody else. That was weak. "The spitting incident was ugly, but it was just a moment in the career of a guy who never did anything before or after. It's not like he's a guy who's been in and out of jail every week." The spitting incident occurred near the end of Roberto's first year with the Orioles on Sept. 27, 1996, in Toronto, during an escalating argument about a called third strike. Alomar was suspended for five games, although he claimed at the time that Hirschbeck called him a derogatory name that caused the instant reaction. The two long ago have moved past the incident, have shaken hands publicly at home plate before an Orioles game on April 22, 1997. And when Robbie didn't receive the congratulatory phone call from the Hall on Jan. 6 in the hours before the announcement, the first thing he did was reach out to Hirschbeck. "I called to tell him not to worry about me," Alomar said. "We have to keep moving on. He felt really sorry about it, and I didn't want him to feel that way. He thought that because of the incident I didn't make it. But enough is enough. It's nobody's fault. We'll move on with life and we're still friends." The secondary reason may have been the vote from some of the New York-based BBWAA members. Alomar played for the Mets near the end of his career for all of 2002 and part of the '03 season. A .300 lifetime hitter, he batted .265 with a .333 on-base percentage and a .703 OPS in New York. His range at second base had diminished and he was not happy during that period. Clearly, Mets fans and media didn't see the best of his 17-year career, and some writers decided that he was not a first-ballot inductee because of it. The Alomar brothers are the sons of former big league infielder and coach Sandy Alomar Sr. The family hails from Salinas, Puerto Rico, near the southern coast of the island. And when Roberto is finally elected, he'll be the first native of the commonwealth to be enshrined since Roberto Clemente was elected in a special 1973 vote that came just shortly after his death in a New Year's Eve plane crash. A switch-hitter, Alomar amassed 2,724 hits, 210 homers, 1,134 RBIs and 474 steals in 2,379 games, playing for seven teams. He came up with the Padres in 1988 and played three seasons in San Diego before he was traded to the Blue Jays, where he played another five -- winning the World Series in 1992 and '93. Those Blue Jays were stocked with future Hall of Famers Rickey Henderson, Dave Winfield and Paul Molitor. The Padres traded him along with Joe Carter for Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez. But Cito Gaston, who just retired after his second tour as Blue Jays manager, said those teams wouldn't have won without Carter and Alomar. "No question," Gaston said. "I would have liked to have kept all four players. Tony Fernandez came back in 1993 and helped us win a World Series, as you know. People probably thought we were crazy when we traded them. But bringing in Joe and Robbie turned the whole club around. They beat you any way they could." Alomar's numbers certainly measure up favorably with Ryne Sandberg, the last second baseman elected by the BBWAA in 2005 -- his third year on the ballot. Sandberg, who played all but 13 games of his entire 16-season career with the Cubs, had 2,386 hits, 282 homers, 1,061 RBIs, 344 steals and a career average of .285 in 2,164 games. Joe Morgan, certainly the standard among second basemen in the post-World War II era, had 2,517 hits, 268 homers and 1,133 RBIs in 2,649 games during his 22-year career, eight of them with Cincinnati's great Big Red Machine. Morgan was elected by the BBWAA in 1990. Alomar's .984 fielding percentage is also right there with Sandberg's .989 and Morgan's .981. No wonder he's confident he'll make up that eight-vote margin. "I have the [offensive and defensive numbers]," he said. "I was close enough. I just didn't have enough votes this year to get in."
Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.