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Posted at 4:33 PM ET, 01/ 5/2011

Alomar makes unprecedented one-year jump to Hall of Fame enshrinement

By Dave Sheinin

Roberto Alomar didn't merely gain entrance to Cooperstown on Wednesday. He also reached one of its highest tiers, as a "90 Percenter." Alomar's vote total -- 523 out of a possible 581 ballots -- was just a shade above 90 percent, well above the 75 percent required for election. And it also made him one of only 26 Hall-of-Famers to get in with better than 90 percent of the vote.

But this is the strange part: Alomar is the only one of those 26 "90 Percenters" who was not elected on his first ballot. That's right: Alomar was denied entrance to Cooperstown a year ago, when he received only 397 of a possible 539 votes, or 73.7 percent. In other words, in one election cycle, Alomar went from falling short of enshrinement to suddenly getting in with a higher percentage of votes than Frank Robinson (89.2 percent), Joe DiMaggio (88.8) or Mickey Mantle (88.2).

"It was real surprising," Alomar said during a conference call with members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America on Wednesday. "I didn't expect to get so many votes."

What gives?

For starters, there is a small percentage of voters that withholds "first-ballot" status for all except a tiny number of transcendent players. Thus, no one has yet gotten to 100 percent, or even 99. (Tom Seaver, at 98.8 percent in 1992, came closest.) And it's fair to say, no one ever will.

But in Alomar's case, it certainly appears as if many voters -- even beyond the usual "no-first-ballot" crowd -- consciously applied a one-year penalty to his candidacy. In one year, he gained 126 votes, while the voter rolls increased by only 42 voters. And if this penalty was indeed applied, it was almost certainly because of the infamous 1996 spitting incident, in which an enraged Alomar spit on umpire John Hirschbeck. In a story that is well-worn by now, Alomar and Hirschbeck later made peace with each other and became friends.

"I've said many times, we as human beings, we let the tempers take over in the game," Alomar said Wednesday. "I regret every bit of it. But at same time, I apologized many times to John. John has apologized to me, and we both moved on.... Maybe it wasn't meant to be last year; it was meant to be this year. I'm not going to to look back. This is an exciting time for me. John and me are friends, and I think some of the writers have moved on, and I'm glad for it."

By Dave Sheinin  | January 5, 2011; 4:33 PM ET
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Next: Can we still call Pudge a "future Hall-of-Famer"?


That was one ugly incident, and thank you, Dave, for letting the details slip from memory. With that forgotten, I still remember the Davy Johnson playoff O's with Robbie ranging into right field, catching the ball on his knee and spinning to make the throw-out. Beautiful!

Posted by: flynnie321 | January 5, 2011 6:12 PM | Report abuse

And speaking of John Hirschbeck, this from the AP recap of the Phillies at Rockies, July 8, 2007, when a freak storm trapped one of the Rockies' grounds beneath the tarp. Blue came through big, as did the Phillies:

Most of the Phillies bench emptied onto the field during the seventh-inning delay, rescuing members of Colorado's grounds crew from underneath the whipping tarp. A strong burst of wind caught hold of it as the crew tried to roll it over the infield.
Victorino grabbed a corner, dug in his feet and pulled it as hard as he could toward left field. Ryan Howard held a section down with a knee. Michael Bourn started heaving sand bags onto the tarp to weigh it down.

Even plate umpire Bill Welke and crew chief John Hirschbeck were out there trying to keep the tarp from flying away again.
The grounds crew had no trouble with the tarp when they removed it following the 50-minute delay. It's the second straight rain delay, the one Saturday night lasting one hour and 22 minutes.

"One guy flew 10 feet in the air," said Adam Eaton, who also pitched in. "We were just hoping they're not hurt. They all thanked us. You hear stories about people getting hurt."
Head groundskeeper Mark Razum had never seen anything like the wind gust in 29 years.

"The wind was so strong, we couldn't hold it," Razum said. "When it draped over the guys, I was worried that somebody might suffocate. It was really cool the Phillies came out and gave us a hand."

Posted by: flynnie321 | January 5, 2011 6:18 PM | Report abuse

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