April 20, 2014

Former Indians Alomar, Blyleven Enter MLB Hall of Fame

In baseball news from earlier in the week, former Cleveland Indians stars Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven earned enough votes for entry into the MLB Hall of Fame. Both earned the required votes for the hall despite very different track records of success over the years with the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Despite their  success with the Indians over the years, neither will be wearing the Cleveland cap in their hall of fame plaques. They both selected their championship teams with Alomar selecting the Toronto Blue Jays and Blyleven entering with the Minnesota Twins.

But for both players, Sheldon Ocker of the Akron Beacon Journal had stories to share in an article from Sunday’s paper about their legacy as stars for the good and the bad.

Going back to the hall of fame credentials, Alomar received 90% of the votes in just his second year on the ballot. A career .300 hitter with 2,724 hits and 474 steals across 17 seasons, he played three very successful years with Cleveland from 1999-2001. Those years were some of the most productive of his career and helped pave the way into the hall.

“He was like the perfect handyman,” his brother and former teammate Sandy Alomar said in an Indians press release. “He did it all and did it all well. He might not have been the best at any one thing but he was well above average at everything he did on the field. He was great in school with his grades growing up and excelled at everything we played- soccer, baseball, basketball – you name it, he did it well.”

Alomar’s infamous spitting incident with John Hirschbeck in 1996 gave him a furious reputation throughout the league, but Ocker also noted a time in 2000 when he demanded a Cincinnati Reds player to be hit with a pitch. It caused great stirring in the Indians clubhouse, and a large argument between him and his brother right in front of the media.

Meanwhile, Blyleven was on the entire opposite track in his 14th year on the ballot out of a maximum 15. He received 79.7% of the vote, just barely over the required 75%, to finally get his name into the prestigious list of all-time greats. He was only a two-time All-Star with no Cy Youngs, but finished fifth in MLB history with 3,701 strikeouts and ninth with 60 shutouts over 22 seasons.

“This should have happened for Bert a long time ago,” former Indians manager Mike Hargrove said in an Indians press release. “Bert had obviously the talent and career that screamed for him to be in the Hall of Fame, but he also had a passion for the game that is rivaled by few. I had a lot of fun playing the game of baseball with Bert and the main reason for that, other than him being a great teammate, is that you knew that on the day that he pitched you had a very good chance of winning.”

Ocker recalled Blyleven’s furious temper with Cleveland as well, highlighting an instance in 1981 when he was so annoyed with umpire Greg Kosc calls, he deliberately threw eight consecutive easy fastballs down the middle for Boston Red Sox hitters.

The two were certainly amongst the best players of the best few decades, but as shown by Ocker in his story today, were not without major flaws as they entered the hall.

(Photo above via Richard Drew/Associated Press)