Barry M. Bloom, for MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven were elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2011, ending a year of anxiety and trepidation for the pair of stellar players.
Alomar was named on 90 percent of the ballots, or 523 of the record 581 cast, good for the third-highest vote total in history. Blyleven was named on 79.7 percent of the ballots, receiving 463 votes. A candidate must receive 75 percent of the vote to gain election. The threshold for election this year was 436 votes. Blyleven and Alomar will become the 294th and 295th members of the Hall of Fame, respectively.
A year ago, the two made history, as Blyleven missed election by five votes and Alomar missed by eight on a ballot in which outfielder Andre Dawson was the only player elected by eligible members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
In 2010, Blyleven had 74.21 percent of the vote and Alomar 73.65 percent.
"It was a long year, it was a long year," Alomar said on MLB Network shortly after the announcement. "It's worth it, I'm real happy today. I don't look back. ... It's an exciting moment for me."
Alomar, the 12-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove-winning second baseman, was in his second of 15 years on the ballot. Blyleven, the right-handed pitcher with a record of 287-250, was in his 14th year and running out of time.
Just after the announcement, Alomar expressed his gratitude as well as his desire to go into the Hall as a member of the Blue Jays.
"I would love to," Alomar said. "I think it's out of my hands who I go in with. I think it's up to the Hall of Fame people, but I'm looking forward to hopefully to wear the Toronto Blue Jays hat. I prefer to go as a Toronto Blue Jay. I won two World Series here."
The duo will join general manager Pat Gillick for the induction ceremonies in Cooperstown, N.Y., behind the Clark Sports Center on July 24. Gillick, who built World Series champions in Toronto (1992-93) and Philadelphia (2008), was elected by a post-expansion Veterans Committee last month. Coincidently, Gillick acquired Alomar and Joe Carter for the Blue Jays in the 1990 blockbuster trade that shipped Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez to San Diego.
Dave Van Horne, the Marlins play-by-play man who spent 32 years in Montreal calling Expos games, won the Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in Major League broadcasting. Bill Conlin, a columnist and Phillies beat writer for the Philadelphia Daily News, was named by the BBWAA as this year's winner of the A.J. Spink Award for his long-time contribution to baseball writing. They will also be there for the big day this summer.
In addition to Blyleven and Alomar, only three players earned more than 50% of the vote: shortstop Barry Larkin (361 votes, 62.1%) and Jack Morris (311 votes, 53.5%).
Among the players appearing on the ballot for the first time, four players collected enough votes to remain on the ballot: Jeff Bagwell with 242 votes (41.7%), Larry Walker with 118 votes (20.3%), Rafael Palmeiro with 64 (11%) and Juan Gonzalez with 30 (5.2%).
The list of notable players who earned enough votes to remain on the ballot is as follows: Lee Smith with 263 votes (45.3%), Tim Raines with 218 votes (37.5%), Edgar Martinez with 191 votes (32.9%), Alan Trammell with 141 votes (24.3%), Mark McGwire with 115 votes (19.8%), Fred McGriff with 104 votes (17.9%), Don Mattingly with 79 votes (13.6%), Dale Murphy with 73 (12.6%). Dave Parker, who received 89 votes or 15.3%, has now exhausted his 15 years of eligibility.
A total of sixteen players on the 2010 ballot did not recieve enough votes to reappear in 2011, including two who just missed the threshold: Harold Baines with 28 votes (4.8%) and John Franco with 27 votes (4.6%). Others receiving votes who will not appear again include Kevin Brown (12 votes, 2.1%), Tino Martinez (6 votes, 1.0%), Marquis Grissom (4, 0.7%), Al Leiter (4, 0.7%), John Olerud (4, 0.7%), B.J. Surhoff (2, 0.3%), Bret Boone (1, 0.2%) and Benito Santiago (1, 0.2%). Others, including Carlos Baerga, Lenny Harris, Bobby Higginson, Charles Johnson, Raul Mondesi and Kirk Reuter didn't receive any votes and thus will also not appear on future ballots.
Hall of Fame history leaned heavily toward Alomar and Blyleven earning nods this year. Including the new electees, all 23 of the previous players to receive 70-74.9 percent of the vote in a given election were eventually granted admission to the Hall, 19 by the BBWAA the following year.
Most recently, reliever Rich "Goose" Gossage missed by 21 votes in 2007 and was elected in '08, and Red Sox outfielder Jim Rice fell 16 votes shy in '08, but was elected in '09.
This year's ballot held plenty of intrigue. The candidates included a trio of slugging first basemen in Bagwell, McGwire and Palmeiro. None of them got in. The latter should have been a sure-fire first-ballot inductee, as a member of the 500-homer, 3,000-hit club, but was suspended in 2005 after testing positive for steroid use.
Palmeiro, with 569 homers and 3,020 hits, was only the fourth player in history to amass more than 500 homers and 3,000 hits. The others are Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Eddie Murray. That trio, of course, is in the Hall.
McGwire, who hit 583 homers, was the first "test case" for players who used or were suspected of using steroids. Palmeiro was the first star to be suspended for such use, although he continues to insist publicly that he took a tainted shot of the vitamin B-12 administered by Miguel Tejada -- his Baltimore teammate at the time.
Bagwell, his career cut short because of a shoulder injury, hit 449 home runs and hit .297. Though he also played under the shadow of PED use that plagued Major League Baseball during his career, there's no concrete evidence that he ever used PEDs, and he recently denied any rumors of doing so. Bagwell was National League Rookie of the Year in 1991 and Most Valuable Player in '94.
Blyleven became the first full-time starting pitcher elected to the Hall since current Rangers president and all-time strikeout leader Nolan Ryan received 98.8 percent of the vote in 1999, his first year on the ballot. Dennis Eckersley was elected in 2004 -- also his first year -- but he spent the first part of his career as a mediocre starter and the rest of it as a lights-out closer.
Blyleven had a 22-season career from 1970-92 with the Twins, Rangers, Pirates, Indians and Angels. He is 27th on the all-time list with 287, is fifth in career strikeouts with 3,701, and was a member of two World Series-winning teams: The 1979 "We Are Family" Pirates and the '87 Twins. Blyleven is 11th in games started with 685, ninth all-time with 60 shutouts and 13th all-time in innings pitched with 4,970. He's also 10th with his 250 losses.
Alomar almost became the 45th player to earn induction the first year he was on the ballot, and he clearly has the credentials after playing for seven teams: the Padres, Blue Jays, Orioles, Indians, Mets, White Sox and D-backs.
His career numbers of 2,724 hits, 210 homers, 1,134 RBIs, 474 stolen bases and a .300 average in 2,379 games stand up favorably to second basemen who have recently reached the Hall of Fame. Ryne Sandberg, elected by the writers in 2005 -- his third year on the ballot -- had 2,386 hits, 282 homers, 1,061 RBIs, 344 steals and a career average of .285 in 2,164 games.