Making a New Mark
Alomar and Blyleven introduced as newest Hall of Famers
NEW YORK, N.Y. – Two men, born in two very different countries, with different backgrounds and personalities, have one major thing in common.
They can now sign "Hall of Famer" after their name.
Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven were introduced as the newest members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Thursday following their election by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. They donned their Hall of Fame jerseys and caps for the first time, marking the last team of ballplayers they will be a part of in their historic careers.
"My name has always been Rik Albert Blyleven," said Blyleven. "Now my name is Rik Albert Blyleven, the Hall of Famer. It will take a while to sink in."
Alomar and Blyleven will join long-time baseball executive Pat Gillick, elected by the Expansion Era Committee, as the Class of 2011 to be inducted on July 24 in Cooperstown.
"I'm excited, this is an honor for me and there are no words I can say right now," said Alomar. "I am excited and I am looking forward to July to be in Cooperstown."
Alomar, who spent his career playing for seven different teams, will wear a cap with a Blue Jays logo on his Hall of Fame plaque, symbolizing the team with which he won two World Series (1992, 1993).
"I will go into the Hall of Fame with a Blue Jays hat," said Alomar. "The first Blue Jay ever to go with a Blue Jays hat and I'm looking forward to it."
Alomar also spent time with the Padres, Orioles, Indians, Mets, White Sox and Diamondbacks, hitting .300 with a .371 on-base percentage over 17 seasons. As a switch-hitter, Alomar totaled 2,724 hits, 80 triples and 474 stolen bases. The 12-time All-Star won 10 Gold Glove Awards as a second baseman and received 90 percent of the vote in his second year on the ballot. He will also be just the third Puerto Rican-born player to be inducted.
"I feel honored to be in the same class as Roberto Clemente and Orlando Cepeda," said Alomar, referring to the first two Puerto Rico natives to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. "I think they are some of the players that I respect the most, they come from Puerto Rico, the same country and I feel honored to be beside them in this elite group."
Blyleven pitched for the Twins, Rangers, Pirates, Indians and Angels, compiling 287 wins with a 3.31 ERA, 242 complete games, 60 shutouts and 3,701 strikeouts. He won a World Series with the Pirates in 1979 and the Twins in 1987.
He earned 79.7 percent of the vote in his 14th appearance on the BBWAA ballot. Blyleven will wear a cap with the Minnesota Twins logo on his bronze plaque.
"I am proud to go into the Hall of Fame as a Minnesota Twin along with legends like Rod Carew, Harmon Killebrew and Kirby Puckett," said Blyleven.
Born in Holland, Blyleven, like Alomar, made the first emotional phone call following his election to his mother.
"She and my dad, who I lost to Parkinson's in 2004, they wanted to give their children a better life and I think being inducted into the Hall of Fame, it can't come any better than that if you're a major league baseball player."
Hall of Fame Weekend will take place July 22-25 and will also honor Dave Van Horne, winner of the Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in broadcasting, and Bill Conlin, winner of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for baseball writing.
Until then, Alomar and Blyleven will be able to take in all the excitement of reaching the pinnacle of baseball, the Hall of Fame.
"It's a great honor, my wife and I are still numb," said Blyleven.
"When I heard those voices saying that I had been elected to the Hall of Fame, it was an honor to hear them tell me that," said Alomar. "It's tough to describe the feeling of that phone call."
Samantha Carr is the manager of web and digital media for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum