Cap decisions easy for newest Hall members

Cap decisions easy for newest Hall members

NEW YORK -- Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven played for 11 teams between them, holding only the Indians in common.

But the two newest electees will go into the National Baseball Hall of Fame this summer wearing the cap of the clubs that made them the most famous, it was announced at a news conference on Thursday: Alomar sporting the Blue Jays logo and Blyleven the Twins.

The induction ceremonies are slated for Cooperstown on July 24. Pat Gillick, the general manager who brought the 10-time American League Gold Glove Award-winning second baseman to Toronto, Ford C. Frick Award winner Dave Van Horne and J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner Bill Conlin of the Philadelphia Daily News will round out the Class of 2011.

Alomar was traded with Joe Carter to Toronto in 1990 by the Padres, the organization with which he played his first three seasons and his dad, Sandy Sr., was then a coach. He also played for the Orioles, Indians, Mets, White Sox and D-backs during his 17-year career.

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"When I was traded, I was so young," Alomar recalled on Thursday. "I didn't know I'd be traded to the Toronto Blue Jays. So I went to my dad and asked for some advice. He told me that I was going to a great city and a great team. 'You're going to be OK playing in Toronto,' he said, and he was right. I got a chance to win two World Series and meet some great people. So I'm going into the Hall of Fame wearing their cap, and I'm thrilled to do it."

The Blue Jays franchise began play in 1977, and so Alomar will be the first player going into the hallowed Hall to have a Blue Jay embossed on his copper plaque. Dave Winfield, Rickey Henderson and Paul Molitor played for Toronto during that era, but Winfield went in representing the Padres, Henderson the A's and Molitor the Brewers.

Alomar is the third native of Puerto Rico to gain membership in the Hall, joining the immortal Roberto Clemente and Orlando Cepeda. A .300 lifetime hitter, Alomar batted .307 in his five seasons with Toronto.

Blyleven, the right-hander who won 287 games and made it to the Hall on his 14th try, will be the fourth to wear a Twins cap on his plaque, joining Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew and the late Kirby Puckett. The original Washington Senators moved to Bloomington, Minn., in 1961 and were renamed the Twins.

Blyleven had two stints in a Twins uniform, playing the first six-plus of his 22 seasons in Minnesota and four more later in his career when he was a member of the 1987 team that defeated the Cardinals in a tough seven-game World Series.

Blyleven, a broadcaster with the Twins since 1995 and the first player of Dutch descent to be elected to the Hall of Fame, wished Killebrew a speedy recovering in his battle with esophageal cancer. Blyleven, who came up in 1970, was a teammate at one time or another with all three players -- Carew and Killebrew early in his career and Puckett much later. Puckett played his entire 12-year career with the Twins and Killebrew played the first 21 of his 22 seasons with the Senators/Twins organization.

"I'm very, very honored to go in as a Minnesota Twin," said Blyleven, who won 149 games and had 2,035 of his 3,701 strikeouts (fifth all-time) with the Twins. "It was a great ride for me. So many great ballclubs I played for and had so many great moments, not only with the Twins, but with the Indians, Pirates and Angels. I want to thank all those organizations. I also don't think I would've been here without my teammates or even the umpires, who were all blind for me when it came to calling my curveball. I have so many people to thank. Hopefully I'll get an opportunity to do that in July."

The Hall of Fame used to allow its electees to make the call about which team they wanted to represent when they were inducted. But Hall officials took over that task in 2002 after there was some controversy regarding whether Winfield would go in as a Padre or a Yankee. After some soul searching, Winfield chose the Padres, the organization that drafted him and with which he played his first eight seasons.

Last year, it was Hall officials who did the soul searching when Andre Dawson was the sole electee on the ballot provided to eligible members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Dawson, who spent his first 10 years with the Expos, made it no secret that he wanted to go into the Hall wearing a Cubs cap to honor his six years playing in Chicago. But after several weeks of discussions, the Hall prevailed and Dawson joined Gary Carter as the only players in Cooperstown representing the Expos, who moved to Washington after the 2004 season.

Each year has its own stresses, said Jeff Idelson, the Hall of Fame's president, but this year's decisions were a lot easier.

"When you look at the totality of the situation, neither player would've made it to Cooperstown without the stops in the cities they played in," Idelson said. "But from a historical standpoint, it was clear to our staff that Minnesota and Toronto made sense, and Robbie and Bert concurred."

The decision now is a collaborative effort, beginning with Hall staff and including the particular players. But as in the case of Dawson last season, it's obvious that the buck ultimately stops with Idelson.

"Every year is different," Idelson said. "But at the end of the day, all we want is that the logo selection be emblematic of their record."

Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.