T.O. goes wild for Robbie

Roberto Alomar acknowledges the crowd during a ceremony to retire his jersey before the Blue Jays...

Roberto Alomar acknowledges the crowd during a ceremony to retire his jersey before the Blue Jays game on Sunday, July 31, 2011. (REUTERS/Mike Cassese)

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:58 PM ET

TORONTO - Robbie, Robbie, Robbie ....

It was all Robbie all the time on the last day of July at the Rogers Centre.

In a tribute to his induction into the Hall of Fame last Sunday, the Blue Jays packed the house on Roberto Alomar Hall of Fame Day where they distributed 20,0000 Alomar bobbleheads and also retired his No. 12, the first Jays player to be so honoured.

Alomar played five seasons with the Blue Jays (1991-95) and Sunday’s on-field ceremonies took almost as long to complete.

But the fans sucked it all in.

It was a love-in that started at noon with an hour-long on-screen celebration of Alomar’s playing days.

At 1 p.m., the on-field tribute began with former teammates Candy Maldonado, Kelly Gruber, Duane Ward, Devon White and John McDonald, good friend and former Cleveland teammate Carlos Baerga, former manager Cito Gaston, team president Paul Beeston and Alomar’s parents, Sandy and Maria, in attendance.

Following their introductions, Alomar walked through the lower stands, shaking hand, and, flanked by a couple of — you guessed it — Mounties. Naturally, one was male, the other female in these politically correct times.

The crowd went wild as he strolled to the stage and, upon reaching it, the fans were greeted with a second on-screen tribute, this one including a host of former teammates such as Jack Morris, Juan Guzman, Jimmy Key, John Olerud, Pat Gillick, Cito, Dave Stewart, Pat Tabler, Ward, Pat Borders, Joe Carter, the Padres' Tony Gwynn, the Twins' Jim Thome, Omar Vizquel of the White Sox and Paul Molitor.

Following brief speeches from Gaston, McDonald and Beeston, Alomar’s No. 12 was unfurled alongside the Jays World Series banners atop the giant TV in centre field. Simultaneously, a giant No. 12 banner was hung outside the stadium and will remain there in tribute.

Alomar then thanked the crowd, his parents and the Jays organization.

The ceremonies pushed the game’s first pitch back to 1:43 p.m.

Nobody, though, seemed to care.

Afterwards, Alomar spoke privately with the media.

“The support they have given me is unbelievable,” Alomar said of the fans. “I can’t ask for a better day.”

Cooperstown and the Hall of Fame was a tremendous honour, but his day, Alomar said, ranks right with it.

“This is a day that I will remember for the rest of my life, especially to share this moment with my family,” he said. “I know Cooperstown is huge, something that you dream about. When I was a boy, I didn’t know what the Hall of Fame was and they (his parents) were in heaven (at Cooperstown and the ceremony). They didn’t know how to express how good it feels.

“But today, they are real proud. They got to meet the fans, they got to meet how the Canadians love their son. They have a lot of respect for the people here, the fans and the organization.”

A special day for the fans to celebrate a special player.


Videos

Photos