In praise of Robbie Alomar

Former Toronto Blue Jays second baseman and 2011 Baseball Hall Of Fame inductee Roberto Alomar...

Former Toronto Blue Jays second baseman and 2011 Baseball Hall Of Fame inductee Roberto Alomar poses with his jersey during a news conference after the Blue Jays announced that his jersey number will be retired in Toronto July 19, 2011. (REUTERS/Mike Cassese)

BOB ELLIOT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:39 PM ET

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. - What people are saying about Robbie Alomar, the first Blue Jays player to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, Sunday afternoon in Cooperstown:

“One night at Yankee Stadium, P.A. announcer Bob Sheppard makes an announcement: ‘The New York Yankees would like to extend a Yankee welcome to Bob Hope.’ The scoreboard shows Bob Hope in George Steinbrenner’s box. We’re together in the dugout, Robbie elbows me, asks ‘Paulie, Paulie, did Bob Hope play for the Yankees?’ I don’t know if anyone had a better feel for playing the game than Robbie. Only Omar Vizquel would be close. Robbie knew runners that would take too big a turn at third. I don’t know if Robbie ever got me, but I always knew there was a chance. It wasn’t for show, it was very calculated.”

— Paul Molitor, ex-Jay Hall of Famer.

“He did so much for San Diego, his moves, the way he handled himself and took charge. I told you the night of the trade in 1990 in the lobby of the Hyatt that the best player in the deal at a) that moment, b) five years from that night and c) when all was said and done was going to be Robbie Alomar. Not Joe Carter, not Tony Fernandez and not Fred McGriff. We were together on a team that went to Japan, I think it was 1990. I found out what kind of gentlemen both Sandy and Robbie were. I told their father when we got back.”

— Buck Rodgers, former Expos manager.

“He stole third with two out (against Jack Morris) and I questioned why. He said ‘because I want to take away the split-finger pitch from him, I want him to throw fastballs to our next hitter.’ I never got it. Same with three balls, no strikes. And I ask, ‘why are you stealing 3-0?’ He said, ‘because I’m the last person people will pay attention to, he’s trying to throw a strike.’ Those little things, it was amazing the way he thought and the way he was ahead of the game all the time. Nobody was better, I don’t think.”

— Ozzie Guillen, White Sox manager

“He could do about anything you want on a ball field and did it well. He was a tremendous player. He won games for us in so many different ways. His stats, obviously, speak for themselves. And his ability to change a game with his base-running, with bunting, with home runs, defence. The credentials he brought, he was a no-brainer really. He was the best second baseman I ever he saw.”

— Jim Thome, Twins, ex-Indians teammate.

“You could see in the minors he was headed to the Hall of Fame. He stuck out like a sore thumb. The sad thing for me and a lot of people is that we thought he would be a first ballot guy. That trouble with the ump cost him. I threw a bat and hit an ump once, I didn’t mean it. Things happen in the heat of battle. No one sticks in my mind as being ahead of him. We don’t have any in our system.”

— Stump Merrill, former Yankees manager, current instructor.

“I was always struck at how effortlessly he played in all areas. Everything about his play was natural, seamless. I would think coaching him was minimal. His movements were so instinctive. Over the last 20-to-30 years he’s probably the best second baseman. Take in everything: switch hitter, defence, base running and speed, power. And of course, the aggregate numbers that are derived from that. He was a game changer.”

— Joe Maddon, Tampa Rays manager

“If he’s not a Hall of Famer I don’t know who the heck is. He could steal and hit with power, no one covered the ground he did. I had him in Japan and he was unbelievable 10 straight days. Defensively the only guy I saw in his league was Bill Mazeroski, but this guy had everything.”

— Bobby Cox, former Jays, Braves manager.

“He’s been one of the greatest second baseman in history, I saw him during his San Diego days for the first time and marvelled at his God-given ability. He sustained it for a long time.”

— Jack Zduriencik, Mariners GM.

“Alomar was with (triple-A) Las Vegas, turned a double play as quick as I’ve ever seen one and rattled off four hits. I looked at another pitcher on our club and said ‘that looks like a headache for us for quite a while.’ Alomar, he simply is the best second I’ve ever laid eyes on. With his overall total package the game was easy for him.”

— Charlie Kerfeld, Phillies scout.

“He was a game changer in his prime. He could beat you with his legs, his glove or hit the ball out of the park. He was a guy you’d pay to see play.”

— Bob Brenly, Cubs broadcaster, former Arizona manager.

“He was the premier second baseman of our time, outstanding in all aspects of the game. He could beat you offensively, defensively or with his speed.”

— David Dombrowksi, Tigers president.

“Not only could Alomar run, throw and field with the best but he also was a great clutch hitter and one of the most instinctive players of the modern era.”

— Gord Ash, former Jays GM, Brewers assistant GM.

“Robbie truly separated himself from all other second baseman of his generation. From a player’s perspective there was simply no one that compared to Robbie as an all-round second baseman.”

— Paul Quantrill, former Jays reliever.

“First time I saw him was in 1993 playing winter ball. Growing up we all wanted to be Pudge Rodriguez, Ruben Sierra, Juan Gonzalez or one of the Alomar brothers.”

— Jose Molina, Jays catcher.


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