Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven Elected to Baseball Hall of Fame

Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven will have their day together in Cooperstown this summer. The pair were elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday by the Baseball Writers' Association of America a year after falling maddeningly short of induction. Alomar was just eight votes shy of the total required for induction in 2010 while Blyleven was a mere five.

That wasn't the case this year. Alomar finished with 523 votes out of a possible 581 (90 percent), while Blyleven got 463 votes (79.7 percent). Candidates must finish with at least 75 percent support from the electorate to gain induction into the Hall of Fame.

Beyond the stage they will share this July and their near miss in 2010, the pair have little in common both in terms of their playing careers and their path to enshrinement in Cooperstown.            

Alomar, in just his second year of eligibility, was known for his all-around game at second base. He was a lifetime .300 hitter, who finished his career with 2,724 hits, 210 home runs, 1,134 RBI and 474 stolen bases. He was named to 12 straight All-Star Games from 1991-2001 and he also won 10 Gold Gloves.

Blyleven, on the flip side, appeared on the ballot for the 14th time this winter, steadily gaining momentum thanks in part to a groundswell of organic support from the Internet, particularly in the sabermetric community. The right-handed pitcher won 287 games and ranks fifth all-time in strikeouts with 3,701 in his career.

Blyleven's 60 career shutouts are the ninth-most ever, and he was the only pitcher with 50 or more shutouts to not be a member of the Hall of Fame before Wednesday.
His 250 career losses and the fact that he rarely played for winning teams or in big markets -- Blyleven played for the Twins, Rangers, Pirates, Indians and Angels -- dragged his case down, particularly at the start. He received just 17.55 percent of the vote in 1998, his first year on the ballot, but those totals have risen fairly steadily ever since, and at last Blyleven will get to take the podium in Cooperstown.

He and Alomar will be joined in July by longtime executive Pat Gillick, who was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in December, Ford C. Frick Award-winning announcer Dave Van Horne and J.G. Taylor Spink Award-winning writer Bill Conlin to round out to the class of 2011.

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