2011 Hall of Fame vote an international affair

By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - This year's Baseball Hall of Fame vote took on a distinctly international tone with the election of Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven, who tried on their Cooperstown jerseys at a news conference on Thursday.

Alomar, who played for seven teams in his 17-year career, will have a Toronto Blue Jays cap on his Hall of Fame plaque -- the first member of that team so honored at Cooperstown.

"I will begin my speech (at Cooperstown) with 'I am proud to be a Puerto Rican,'" the 12-time All-Star second baseman told reporters at a New York news conference on Thursday.

Alomar is a member of an esteemed baseball family, including his father Sandy Alomar and older brother Sandy Alomar, Jr., who both also played Major League Baseball.

Blyleven will wear the cap of the Minnesota Twins when he becomes the first Dutch-born player to be enshrined. Blyleven, born Rik Aalbert Blyleven, moved with his family from Zeist as a two-year-old to Canada and then to California.

"Being born in Holland, I'm very proud to be going in as the first Dutchman in the Hall of Fame," said the pitcher, who played for five different clubs and won World Series rings with the Pittsburgh Pirates (1979) and Twins (1987).

The 2011 vote marked the first time reporters from Asian media outlets joined in the process, according to Baseball Writers' Association of America Secretary-Treasurer Jack O'Connell, who helps count the ballots and makes the call to players who have won election.

Japan's Gaku Tashiro of the Sankei Sports newspaper and Keizo Konishi of Kyodo News, who joined the BBWAA coinciding with Ichiro Suzuki's coming to the major leagues in 2001, earned the right to vote after completing 10 years membership in the organization.

(Reporting by Larry Fine; Editing by Frank Pingue)