Alomar, Blyleven, Gillick Thrill Cooperstown Crowd At Class of 2011 Hall of Fame Induction
50 Hall of Famers, Fans of All Nationalities Celebrate Newest Hall of Famers
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – The National Pastime took on a decidedly international flavor in the heart of America on Sunday at the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
But for Class of 2011 members Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven and Pat Gillick – and the estimated 17,500 fans in Cooperstown – the language of baseball needed no translator.
Baseball's most exclusive club welcomed its newest members Sunday, with the biggest names the game has ever known right there to see it. Fifty Hall of Famers graced the stage in Cooperstown on Sunday during the annual Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony as Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven and Pat Gillick were inducted as the Class of 2011 in front of a cheering crowd and a nation of supporters watching from home live on MLB Network, and around the world through international affiliates.
Alomar, a native of Puerto Rico, was cheered on by a vocal section of followers from his home country, who waved Puerto Rican flags and chanted his name. At the same time, Toronto Blue Jays fans – many wearing their No. 12 "Alomar" jerseys – welcomed the first Jays player into the Hall of Fame. Alomar becomes the first player enshrined in the Hall of Fame with a Blue Jays logo on his Hall of Fame plaque.
Alomar began his speech with comments in Spanish, acknowledging that English is his second language.
"My time in Toronto was the best of my career," Alomar said. "I am so proud to represent you in Cooperstown as first Blue Jay inducted into the Hall of Fame. I want to say to Puerto Rico, Canadians and the game of baseball: You are my life and my love."
Gillick, who served as the Blue Jays general manager for 17 seasons, remains a hero in Canada for taking the Toronto franchise from expansion team to World Series winner.
"I want to thank all of the Canadian fans that made the trip to Cooperstown," Gillick said.
Blyleven became the first Holland-born player enshrined in the Hall of Fame. His parents immigrated from The Netherlands to Canada in the 1950s, then moved to Southern California. The affable former pitcher, now a Minnesota Twins broadcaster, left the crowd laughing several times with his self-effacing humor.
"I'm very proud to be the first Dutchman elected to the Hall of Fame," Blyleven said. "And Robbie, don't worry, many people say English is my second language too."
On a perfect summer day in Cooperstown, the highlights were numerous::
**The 2011 Award Winners were honored on the Induction Ceremony stage, as J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner Bill Conlin (honored for writing), Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award winner Roland Hemond and Ford C. Frick Award winner Dave Van Horne (honored for broadcasting) acknowledged the crowd. The Award Winners accepted their honors on Saturday during the inaugural Hall of Fame Awards Presentation at Doubleday Field.
**Former teammates and friends of the inductees were on hand at the Induction Ceremony, including former Blue Jays and Braves manager Bobby Cox, who sat next to Braves executive John Schuerholz during the Ceremony; Jim Kaat and Tony Oliva, former teammates of Blyleven with the Twins; Roberto Alomar's brother and former teammate Sandy Alomar Jr.; Mike Veeck, the son Hall of Famer Bill Veeck; and Detroit Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski.
**Fans heard from several Hall of Famers during the Ceremony, including Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry on the Giants 2010 World Series championship; and George Brett, Dave Winfield and Robin Yount on Derek Jeter's successful conquest of the 3,000-hit milestone.
**Twelve-year-old Anthony Gargiula of Glenmont, N.Y., returned to the Induction Ceremony for the second year in a row to provide a moving rendition of the United States National Anthem..
**During the introduction of returning Hall of Famers, thunderous standing ovations came for Rickey Henderson, Juan Marichal and Paul Molitor, among others. Forty-seven Hall of Famers, not including the Class of 2011, returned to Cooperstown to watch the Induction Ceremony.
The 2011 Hall of Fame Weekend concludes Monday with a Voices of the Game – Inductee Memories event at 10:30 a.m. at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown. This event will feature a discussion with Class of 2011 members Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven and Pat Gillick and is open to participants in the Hall of Fame's Membership Program. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children, and are available at the Hall of Fame. For information on becoming a Member, please visit us online at www.baseballhall.org.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame's 2012 Induction Weekend will take place July 20-23, with the Induction Ceremony scheduled for July 22.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is open seven days a week year round, with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. The Museum observes summer hours of 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. from Memorial Day Weekend until the day before Labor Day. From Labor Day until Memorial Day Weekend, the Museum observes daily regular hours of 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Ticket prices are $19.50 for adults (13 and over), $12 for seniors (65 and over) and for those holding current memberships in the VFW, Disabled American Veterans, American Legion and AMVets organizations, and $7 for juniors (ages 7-12). Members are always admitted free of charge and there is no charge for children 6 years of age or younger. For more information, visit our Web site at baseballhall.org or call 888-HALL-OF-FAME (888-425-5633) or 607-547-7200.