Outspoken Blyleven to be enshrined alongside Alomar
Posted: Thursday, January 6, 2011 5:05 pm
By: By BEN WALKER, AP Baseball Writer
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.