Let me take a moment away from the euphoria surrounding the new House of Representatives.
Today was also a big day for Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven who were elected by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) to the Nationafl Baseball Hall of Fame. The pair will be inducted along with longtime baseball executive Pat Gillick (who was picked by the Veterans Committee) as well as sportswriter Bill Conlin of the Philadelphia Daily News and Florida Marlins radio broadcaster Dave Van Horne who will be bestowed with J.G Taylor Spink Award and the Ford C. Frick Award, respectively. (Of course, I remember Van Horne when he did the TV play-by-play for the Montreal Expos on the English language CBC). After both falling short a year ago, Alomar received 90% of the vote from the BBWAA while Blyleven managed to sneak over the 75% threshold with 79.7% of ballots cast. The ceremony wil take place in Cooperstown, New York on July 24, 2011.
Alomar spent 17 seasons in the big leagues with the San Diego Padres, Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians, New York Mets, Chicago White Sox (twice) and the Arizona Diamondbacks. He amassed 2,724 hits, a .300 lifetime batting average, ten Gold Gloves for his defense at second base and back to back World Series rings with the Blue Jays in ’92 and ’93.
It is widely believed the BBWAA did not elect Alomar last year because of an incident that took place in 1996 in which he spit in the face of umpire John Hirshbeck over a called third strike (I saw this game on TV). Alomar later said Hirshbeck was bitter over the death of his young son who was afflicted with Siemerling-Creutzfeldt Disease. However, Alomar and Hirshbeck would bury the hatchet and join forces to raise money to combat Siemerling-Creutzfeldt. Hirshbeck later publicly called for Alomar to be elected to the Hall.
As for Blyleven, time was running out on his candidacy having been rejected by the BBWAA thirteen years in a row. Blyleven won 287 big league games but lost 250. But he generally pitched for mediocre teams and lost a lot of 1-0 games. Let’s also say that his personality is very off color (language warning) and that has probably turned off some Hall voters over the years.
Yet Blyleven’s possessed arguably the best curveball ever thrown by a pitcher in big league history. His 3,701 strikeouts are good enough for fifth on the all-time list. Had Blyleven pitched with teams like the Oakland A’s, Cincinnati Reds or Baltimore Orioles early in his career he probably would have exceeded 300 wins. Instead he pitched for teams like Minnesota Twins, Texas Rangers, Cleveland Indians and California Angels. Nevertheless, he did collect two World Series rings from the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates and the 1987 Minnesota Twins.
As for some of the players who were on the ballot whom I deemed worthy of greater consideration for Cooperstown, relief pitcher extraordinaire Lee Smith’s vote dropped 2% and although Alan Trammell’s got a 2% increase he still got less than 25% of the overall vote. It’s tougher to get elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame than it is to get elected to Congress.