Alomar makes unprecedented one-year jump to Hall of Fame enshrinement
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."
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."
| January 5, 2011; 4:33 PM ET
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