TORONTO - Robbie Alomar spent 17 seasons in the major leagues building a Hall of Fame resume. Now he has the plaque to go with it.
Alomar, a powerful contributor to Toronto's back-to-back World Series titles in 1992 and 1993, was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame along with pitcher Bert Blyleven. They will both be inducted during ceremonies at Cooperstown in August.
Alomar was named on nearly 90% of the 581 ballots cast by 10-year members of the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Blyleven was named on nearly 80% of the ballots.
In his first try on the ballot in 2010, Alomar was named on 73.7% of all ballots cast, falling just eight short of the 75% needed for election.
Blyleven, after 13 years of disappointment, finally was elected on his 14th year of eligibility. He had fallen just five votes short in 2010.
He pitched 22 seasons with five teams, winning 287 games while compiling a 3.31 ERA. In 692 games, he walked 1,322 and struck out 3,701 batters.
Alomar was born to play baseball. His father, Sandy Alomar, Sr., was an All-Star during his 15-year career and brother Sandy was an All-Star catcher.
Barry Larkin was third in voting with 62.1% of the vote, followed by Jack Moirris at 53.5%.
Alomar, now the third Puerto Rican-born player (Roberto Clemente and Orlando Cepeda are the others) to make it into the Hall, broke in with San Diego in 1988 and was traded three years later to Toronto along with Joe Carter in what is regarded the most important trade in Blue Jay history.
Ironically, Pat Gillick the GM who made that trade, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame alongside Alomar this year. Gillick was recently elected as a builder by the Hall's veterans' committee.
Alomar would hit a combined .354 in four postseason series in those two championship seasons.
He won a Gold Glove in each of his five years with the Blue Jays,
Probably the biggest home run in Alomar's career, and arguably the most important in Blue Jay history, occurred in the fifth game of the American League Championship Series in 1992 at Oakland.
With the series tied 2-2 and the Athletics up 6-1 in the top of the eighth, Alomar had ignited a three-run rally with a leadoff double. Now, in the ninth with Devon White on ahead of him, Alomar belted a game-tying home run off Oakland closer, Dennis Eckersley, now a Hall of Famer himself.
The Jays eventually won that game in the 11th, then took the series in six games, setting the stage for Toronto's first World Series title.
"I know everybody always thinks of Joe Carter's home run against Philadelphia, but if Robbie doesn't hit that one in Oakland, who knows how things would have played out for us?" said former manager Cito Gaston.
Alomar played five seasons in Toronto, winning Gold Glove honors and All-Star berths in each of them. He also stole 50-plus bases in two seasons and finished sixth in MVP voting three years in a row. In all, Alomar had 12 consecutive All-Star berths and 11 straight Gold Gloves. Both streaks ended after the 2001 season.
Alomar's final three years were marred by a series of injuries that eventually forced him to retire in 2004 after 2,379 games, 2,724 hits, 210 home runs, 1,134 RBI, 1,508 runs, 474 stolen bases and a batting average of .300.
Alomar's credentials probably should have made him a first-ballot inductee but for a couple of factors. His final three seasons, when he was plagued by back injuries, left a sour taste in some voters‚ mouths. In addition, on Sept. 27, 1996, Alomar got into a heated argument over a third-strike call by umpire John Hirschbeck and spat in the umpire's face.
Hirschbeck and Alomar have long since patched up their differences but the incdent left a negative impression in many voters‚ minds.