- Image 1 of 2
- Image 2 of 2
NEW YORK – A career .300 hitter, over a span of 17 years, Roberto Alomar was thrown a curve in his first year of eligibility to enter the baseball Hall of Fame back in January of 2010, receiving 73.7 percent of the vote -- 75 percent is required.
So like any accomplished hitter, Alomar stepped back into the box and the Hall of Fame voters came calling - picked by 90 percent of the ballots.
Today, he joins Roberto Clemente and Orlando Cepeda as the only Puerto Ricans in the Hall of Fame.
“I feel like a kid, a kid that is dreaming of playing the game of baseball,” Alomar said. “Now I'm going to be standing beside the greatest players that ever played this game, and I cannot believe that I'm one of them.”
The son of ex-major leaguer Sandy Alomar Sr. and brother of another former big leaguer, Sandy Alomar Jr., Alomar will join pitcher Bert Blyleven, who waited 14 years, along with Pat Gillick, the general manager that brought Alomar to Toronto in a trade, in Cooperstown today with the rest of the national pastime's immortals.
The 12-time All-Star won a record 10 Gold Gloves as a second baseman between 1991 and 2001 and helped the Blue Jays win back to back titles in 1992 and 1993.
He totaled 2,724 hits and could easily be a part of the 3,000-hit club had it not been for disappointing seasons towards the end of his career with the New York Mets, Chicago White Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks.
Alomar walked away from the game on March 19, 2005 during spring training with Tampa.
He stole 474 bases, hit 210 home runs and had 1,134 RBIs.
While many will always remember Joe Carter joyfully skipping to every base after his home run to win the 1993 World Series, Alomar's game-tying homer in the top of the ninth off of Oakland's closer Dennis Eckersley in Game 4 of the ALCS in 1992 was just as important in Blue Jays history. Toronto went on to win in 11 innings and the league championship in six games. Oh, and that was also the year they won their first World Series title.
If not for Gillick, Alomar never makes it from southern California to the north of the border, a trade that shocked Alomar since he signed with the San Diego Padres as a 17-year-old out of Salinas, Puerto Rico on February 16, 1985, joining his dad and his brother, who the Padres signed in 1983, in the organization – the brothers were together for only eight games in 1988 and '89.
Alomar enjoyed three seasons with the Padres, making the All-Star team in 1989 in his third season.
In his major league debut, he got a hit in his first at-bat against future Hall of Famer, Nolan Ryan, on April 22, 1988.
Gillick sent Fred McGriff along with Tony Fernandez to the Padres on December 5, 1990 for Carter and the future Hall of Famer. Gillick had tried to sign Alomar but the second baseman joined the Padres.
During his five years with the Blue Jays, the club made the playoffs three times.
Alomar left the Blue Jays after the 1995 season and signed as a free agent with the Baltimore Orioles. But the lowest point of his career came in 1996 when he spit at umpire John Hirschbeck during a heated argument over a called third strike in a game on September 27.
Many in the baseball community think that voters made Alomar pay last year in the voting process for those actions.
This week in a conference call leading to the induction ceremonies, Alomar said that Hirschbeck had called him to apologize after hearing that Alomar was not voted into the Hall of Fame.
“And I told him 'No, it's not your fault. It was my fault.'”
Both are now really good friends despite that one night.
Alomar has had other off the field personal problems come to the light in recent years.
A former girlfriend alleged that he had AIDS, accused Alomar of having unprotected sex with her during a stretch of four years. Ilya Dall took him to court for $15 million but the case was settled out of court in May 2009.
In October 2010, his ex-wife accused him in divorce papers of having unprotected sex despite knowing that he knew he was HIV-positive. The divorced was finalized about two weeks ago.
Without a doubt Alomar was the best to play second base in his generation. There wasn't anything better than Alomar ranging up the middle to steal a base hit, diving in the hole and firing to first.
“It's an honor for us Latinos to have Alomar go into the Hall of Fame. The job he did was stupendous. He was one of the best overall players, offensively and defensively. He ran the bases really good. He knew that game very good. He was just a complete guy. He deserves [it],” St. Louis Cardinals third base coach and fellow Puerto Rican José Oquendo told Fox News Latino this week.
“It's an honor now that another one enters the Hall of Fame. It's a merit that well deserved.”
Said fellow boricua and Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, who knows the Alomar clan: “It's a boricua and Puerto Rican honor. I'm very happy for him and his family. I met his dad, Santos, and his brother. I'm really happy for them. They deserve it. He was a tremendous player. He represented Puerto Rico in grand fashion. I'm happy for him.”
Adry Torres, who has covered MLB, NFL, NBA and NCAA basketball games and related events, is a regular contributor to Fox News Latino. He can be reached at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter: @adrytorresnyc.