Alomar, Blyleven Elected to Hall of Fame

  • January 6, 2011, 10:41 AM

NEW YORK (AP) -- After a narrow miss last year, Bert Blyleven told voters they finally got it right by sending him into the Hall of Fame along with Roberto Alomar.

And he took the opportunity to talk about baseball's dark past -- the Steroids Era.

All-Star sluggers Rafael Palmeiro, Jeff Bagwell, Mark McGwire and Juan Gonzalez didn't come close in Wednesday's election. No telling if they ever will, either, after Hall voters sent a clear message: The drug cloud isn't going to cover Cooperstown.

"The writers are saying that this was the Steroids Era, like they have done Mark McGwire, " Blyleven said after finally making it to the Hall on his 14th try. "They've kind of made their point."

Blyleven was chosen on 79.7 percent -- it takes 75 percent approval by the Baseball Writers' Association of America to reach the shrine. The great curveballer won 287 games, threw 60 shutouts and ranks fifth with 3,701 strikeouts. He was down to his next-to-last try on the ballot.

"It's been 14 years of praying and waiting, " Blyleven said in a conference call. "And thank the baseball writers of America for, I'm going to say, finally getting it right."

Alomar was picked on 90 percent of the ballots. The 12-time All-Star won a record 10 Gold Gloves at second base, hit .300 and helped the Toronto Blue Jays win titles in 1992-93.

Palmeiro, McGwire, Bagwell and Gonzalez fared poorly, with BBWAA members reluctant to choose bulky hitters who posted big numbers in the 1990s and 2000s.

"Guys cheated, " Blyleven said. "They cheated themselves and their teammates. The game of baseball is to be played clean. I think we went through a Steroid Era and I think it's up to the writers to decide when and who should go in through that era."

A lot of them have already decided.

"I will not vote for any player connected with steroid use, because I believe cheaters shouldn't be rewarded with the sport's highest honor, " Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle said in an e-mail.

"We are asked to consider character when casting Hall of Fame votes and I don't believe those who used performance-enhancing substances meet that standard, " she said. "They cheated to get ahead, plain and simple, creating an imbalance in the game and a mess for the voters. They can enjoy the big contracts they earned as a result, but they won't get my vote."

Bagwell got 41.7 percent in his first year on the ballot. His career stats are among the best for first basemen since World War II -- .297 batting average, .408 on-base percentage and .540 slugging percentage. He hit 449 home runs, topped 1,500 RBIs and runs and ran the bases hard. He was Rookie of the Year, NL MVP and a Gold Glove winner.

Bagwell never tested positive, there were no public allegations against him and he was adamant that he never used illegal drugs. Still, many voters and fans aren't sure yet how to assess the huge numbers put up by the game's top hitters.

"That stuff's going to happen in this era, " Bagwell said on a conference call. "People are going to have suspicion in the era I played in."

"People are going to think what they want to think. If they don't think that anybody was good in this era, then that's fine. Like I said, I'm one of the first ones to come up in that era. I'm OK with it, " he said. "There's nothing I can do about it."

Palmeiro was listed on just 64 of a record 581 ballots (11 percent) in his first try despite lofty career numbers -- he is joined by Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Eddie Murray as the lone players with more than 3,000 hits and 500 home runs.

But Palmeiro failed a drug test and was suspended by Major League Baseball in 2005. The penalty came a few months after he wagged his finger at members of Congress and told them: "I have never used steroids. Period."

Former Rep. Tom Davis was the chairman of the House committee that held the March 17, 2005, hearing on steroids in baseball at which Palmeiro made that statement and McGwire refused to "talk about the past."

"The baseball writers are weighing the steroid thing. It's still got to play out, but at this point they seem to have factored that it into their decisions, " Davis said in a telephone interview Wednesday.

The other leader of that committee, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., declined to comment through a spokesperson.

"Henry and I did our job. We tried to clean the game up a little bit and tried to help young people who were starting to use that stuff, " Davis said. "The rest of it will be up to history."

Palmeiro recently reiterated the anabolic steroid that caused his positive test came in a vitamin vial given to him by teammate Miguel Tejada.

McGwire got 19.8 percent, a drop from 23.7 percent last year. This was his fifth time on the ballot, and first since the former home run champion admitted he took steroids and human growth hormone.

Juan Gonzalez, a two-time AL MVP implicated by Jose Canseco in steroids use, received 30 votes, just above the 5 percent threshold for remaining on the ballot next year.

Alomar and Blyleven will be joined by Pat Gillick at the induction ceremonies July 24 in Cooperstown. The longtime executive was picked last month by the Veterans Committee. Gillick helped earn his place with a trade that brought Alomar to Toronto.

Smart, graceful and acrobatic on the field, Alomar also was guilty in one of the game's most boorish moments. He spit on umpire John Hirschbeck during a dispute in 1996 and was suspended. They later made up and Hirschbeck supported Alomar's bid for the Hall.

"I regret every bit of it. I apologized many times to John, " he said. "I feel good I've had a good relationship with John."

Said Hirschbeck: "I'm very, very happy for him. It's overdue."

"I'm not going to comment on why he didn't get elected the first time. But I forgave him. Maybe the rest of the world has, " Hirschbeck told The Associated Press by telephone.

Alomar drew 73.7 percent last year in his first try on the ballot. Blyleven had come even closer, missing by just five votes while getting 74.2 percent.

"Robbie was an incredible player. He was a pleasure to watch play the game and I am not saying that because he was my brother. He had all the tools and put them all into play, " former Cleveland teammate Sandy Alomar Jr. said.

Alomar got his first major league hit off Nolan Ryan in 1988. Ryan was the last pure starting pitcher elected to the Hall by the BBWAA in 1999.

Blyleven, now 59, pitched against Alomar and his father, Sandy Alomar.

It was quite a climb for Blyleven, who helped pitch Pittsburgh to the 1979 title and Minnesota to the 1987 crown. Many years ago, he drew barely over 14 percent in the BBWAA voting.

Blyleven's career stats have gotten a boost in recent years by sabermetricians who have new ways to evaluate baseball numbers.

"I could not be happier if it was my own son, " Twins Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew said. "I played in the first game Bert pitched for the Minnesota Twins in 1970. ... I wish it wouldn't have taken so long but now that he is in, it's wonderful."

Barry Larkin and Tim Raines showed gains in this year's voting. Pete Rose received three write-in votes.

Larkin (62 percent) and Jack Morris (54 percent) could get more consideration next year, when Bernie Williams is the top first-year candidate.

"My words to Jack are, 'Don't give up, "' Blyleven said.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Steroid users should not be in the HOF. Even though he (used to be) my favorite player, Mark McGwire should not be in the HOF. Sorry, Big Mac.

i agree. blyleven should`ve been elected earlier. he`s 5th on the career strikeouts list.

Big Mac was good before he did steroids (with the A's).

Yes this is true, but you have to rember, back then steriods were legal and part of the game

they should not be in!

@ everybody!!!!! read if u like baseball!!! Bert Blylevin went 287-250 with over 3700 strikeouts (he is fifth all time) a 3.31 era, and he was the ace of two world series winners, the 69 pirates and the 87 twins.
Alomar won two consecutive world series with the blue jays (92-93) and won 10 gold gloves at 2nd base and had over 2500 hits.

Congrats. After many years on the ballor for Bret and his secnd year for Robby Alomar, Congrats to both!
2012 Class of HOF: Barry Larkin!
Any Baseball Questions? Ask Question about basbeall in a reply to one of my comments and I will answer!

his nickname was bert be home by eleven

blyleven's nickname was the flying dutchman.

The Answer to my question 1) was Moses "Fleet" Walker, Jackie Robinson is the common answer but Walker played several decades earlier.
2) I should have made my question more specific so Wicked Web summed it up pretty well, however the answer i was looking for was Lou Gehrig and Roberto Clemente. Gehrig because he was on the verge of dying of ALS, and Clemente because he was killed in a plane accident.
As for the question concerning Blyleven's nickname, I have no idea, but since he is know for haveing a historic cureball, I would guess it has something to do with that. Something like "Captain Hook" or "Mister Bender" are kindof catchy but I really have no idea. haha

wicked web you are correct about my question but you missed spelled his name it is koufax and i would know i have his 1962 card and i have don drysdales 62 card also. but here is another question. who won the 1976 world series and who did they play?

Under special circumstances, certain players may be deemed eligible for induction even though they have not met all requirements. Addie Joss was elected in 1978, despite only playing nine seasons before he died of meningitis. Additionally, if an otherwise eligible player dies before his fifth year of retirement, then that player may be placed on the ballot at the first election at least six months after his death. Roberto Clemente's induction in 1973 set the precedent when the writers chose to put him up for consideration after his death on New Year's Eve, 1972.

I know most people whould say Jackie Robinson for the Dodgers, but, Bud Fowler is the first known professional black player on an integrated team when he plays in Lynn (IA) exhibition games. There was also a player in the 1880's named Moses Walker who played MLB before black players were banned and he played for Toledo of the American Association.

Hockey Hawk136,
Sandy Kofax, i believe

Leader Ultra,
Al Benton, who pitched in the AL for the A's, Tigers, Indians and Red Sox from 1934 to 1952. He pitched against Ruth while with the Philadelphia A's and Mantle while pitching for the Red Sox.

awesome shortstop what was on of blylevens' nicknames?

number one is EASY jackie robinson broklyn dodgers number two i dont know

HockeyHawk136, are you serious? thats your question? haha thats not gonna stump any baseball fan. Here are a couple questions for anyone out there:1) who was the first african american profesional baseball player and what team did he play for?
2)Who were the only men to enter the MLB HOF before the 5 year waiting period had passed?
Don't look on google because that takes the fun out of it!

who is the pitcher that pitched with don drysdale in the 60's in a AMAZING pitching tandem? i know the awnser so i will tell you if you reply back.

lets see if we should ask you questions. I KNOW THE ANSWER TO THIS AND WILL TELL U WEN U REPLY!!! who was the only pitcher to pitch to mickey mantle and babe ruth

I agree. Alomar was a good pick, but Blyleven? I'm not sure if i've even heard of him.

barry larkin should of been in alomar sure ok pick but larkin was awesome he won a world series with the reds!

Alomar was a good pick. I'm from Canada and the media is going crazy but I cant understand Blyleven. He was never a best pitcher and never won 300 games. Boy there running out of HOF who haven't taken steroids.

True. But I think they should put in Pete Rose. Yeah, he gambled, but he gambled when he was a manager, not a player. Plus, he didn't use steroids. He was just a wily veteran who knew how to play. And well.

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