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Blyleven and Alomar hope to take final Cooperstown step

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former pitcher Bert Blyleven and second baseman Roberto Alomar hope to take the final step into baseball's Hall of Fame after their near misses last year as the 2011 ballots for election were sent out Monday.

Blyleven was a mere five votes short of election last year, receiving 74.2 percent of 539 ballots cast by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, while Alomar fell eight votes short in being named by 73.7 percent of voters.

Last year only outfielder Andre Dawson received the minimum 75 percent required for enshrinement in Cooperstown.

Results of the balloting will be announced on January 5.

Bagwell, his Houston Astros career cut short after 15 years because of a shoulder injury, hit 449 home runs with a career batting average of .297.

The first baseman was National League Rookie of the Year in 1991 and Most Valuable Player in 1994. He hit triple figures in runs-batted-in eight times.

Palmeiro surpassed milestones of 500 homers and 3,000 hits, but admission to the Hall may be blocked by his 2005 suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.

Mark McGwire, who hit 583 homers, has not fared well in his four years on the ballot amid suspicion that he had cheated. The slugger admitted steroid use before joining the St Louis Cardinals last year as a hitting coach.

(Writing by Larry Fine; Editing by Steve Ginsburg)