Jays to retire Hall of Famer Alomar's number

By Frank Pingue

TORONTO (Reuters) - Roberto Alomar, the unproven name in a trade that transformed Toronto in to back-to-back World Series champions, has become the first Blue Jay to have his number retired.

Alomar, the only player of that key trade that entered the Hall of Fame, is assured that no other member of the organization will wear his number 12 again, the Major League Baseball team said on Tuesday.

"The first person I called was my dad for some advice because I was going to a different country, I never played in the American League and I was being traded ... for players who had accomplished so much for the organization."

The Puerto-Rican born Alomar came to Toronto in a trade with San Diego. The Blue Jays also got Joe Carter in exchange for fan favorites Tony Fernandez and Fred McGriff.

Alomar spent his first three seasons with San Diego but it was in Toronto where he blossomed, earning All-Star honors and Gold Glove awards for fielding excellence in each of his five years with the club.

His .307 batting average with Toronto remains the highest recorded by a Blue Jay among players with a minimum 2,000 plate appearances. He also ranks second in stolen bases (206) and fifth in triples (36).

Alomar, who was named the 1992 American League Championship Series Most Valuable Player, batted .373 in 29 playoff games as a Blue Jay.

While Alomar produced countless stunning plays during his tenure in Toronto, he is likely most remembered for a dramatic ninth-inning homer against Oakland closer Dennis Eckersley in Game Four of the 1992 ALCS.

"Roberto is a very special part of the Toronto Blue Jays organization and arguably the greatest second baseman of all-time," said Toronto Blue Jays President Paul Beeston.

"His number deserves to be retired so that his contributions and excellence can stand as a model for all those who have the honor of wearing a Blue Jays uniform."

Alomar's time in Toronto came to an end in 1995 when he signed with the Baltimore Orioles. He would go on to play for a handful of other teams before his final season in 2004.

He finished his 17-year career with 2,724 hits, 210 homers, 1,134 runs batted in and 474 steals in 2,379 career games to go along with 12 All-Star game selections.

"When I was a little boy all I wanted to do was just play the game, and I didn't play for achievements," said Alomar.

"All I did was play the game because I had a God-given talent and now I have accomplished so many things in my life that I believe all the hard work I had done has paid off."

(Editing by Patrick Johnston)