This weekend, Roberto Alomar receives the game’s highest honor: induction into Cooperstown. Recently, I’ve posted a series of career highlights about baseball figures upon their deaths—this gives me the chance to do something like that under far more cheerful circumstances.
The career highlights include a player’s best (and worst) games, most memorable moments, most important games—as well as some oddities and interesting moments he happened to be on hand for, even if he didn’t really take a leading role in them. They’re all moments from the career of Roberto Alomar.
This weekend’s new Hall of Famer.
April 22, 1988: Roberto Alomar makes his major league debut against the Houston Astros. In his first trip to the plate, he hits an infield single off Nolan Ryan to shortstop Rafael Ramirez. Next time up, Ryan fans Alomar on three pitches.
May 11, 1988: There are only two games in the last 60 years that ended 1-0 when the winning run scored on a walk-off sacrifice hit. As it happens, Alomar plays in one of them at the outset of his career. Unfortunately for him, the Padres lose it to the Cubs in the 10th inning when veteran third baseman Vance Law lays it down with the bases loaded and one out. Alomar goes 1-for-4 in the game.
Sept. 28, 1988: Roberto Alomar helps make history tonight by not scoring. More specifically, he doesn’t score against Dodger ace Orel Hershiser, who tosses 10 innings to set the all-time record with 59 straight innings without a run. Alomar singles in the eighth inning against Hershiser but is immediately picked off first. Even after Hershiser leaves the game remains a great pitchers’ duel. The Dodgers score the game’s first run in the top of the 16th, but improbably the Padres score two in the bottom of the inning for the win. The teams combine for 11 hits in 106 at bats.
May 7, 1989: The Padres beat the Pirates 3-1, thanks to Roberto Alomar who collects all three RBIs off a two-run double in the fifth and a solo shot in the eighth. In his career, Alomar drives in all the runs for his team in a victory six times, but the others are either 1-0 or 2-1 or 2-0 wins, not a three-RBI game like this one.
July 17, 1990: Roberto Alomar plays shortstop for the fifth and final time in his career, as the Padres lose to the Cubs, 7-2. All five times come in June and July of 1990 with Bip Roberts manning second base. (Random note: I was at this game. It was the first time I ever saw a game at Wrigley Field. Huh).
July 25, 1990: Roberto Alomar gets a front row seat for one of the most infamous renditions of the Star Spangled Banner, as the Padres ask Roseanne Barr to sing the National Anthem.
Blue Jays years
May 10, 1991: Roberto Alomar has possibly the greatest day of his career. In fact, according to WPA, it’s the best game every by any Blue Jay. He goes 3-for-4 with two home runs and two walks against the White Sox. The first home run is a solo shot that ties the game 2-2 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. The other home run again ties the game, 3-3 in the 11th. Alas, the Blue Jays lose anyway, 5-3 (12), despite Alomar’s 1.037 WPA.
June 4, 1991: Roberto Alomar, he of 474 career steals, sets a personal best with four swipes in this game against Baltimore catcher Bob Melvin. Toronto wins, 8-4.
Aug. 18, 1991: The game gets off to a rollicking start for Toronto, as leadoff hitters Devon White and Roberto Alomar hits back-to-back homers off Detroit’s Bill Gullickson to kick off the first inning. That proves to be the distance, as Toronto wins 4-2.
Oct. 4, 1991: ALCS Game One: Roberto Alomar first appears in the postseason, going 2-for-4, but the Twins win 5-4.
Oct. 11, 1991; ALCS Game Three: Tied one game apiece, the Twins and Blue Jays tangle for 10 innings, as Minnesota prevails, 3-2. They’ll win the next two games to claim the pennant. Alomar is 1-for-3 with a walk and sacrifice hit.
June 1, 1992: Roberto Alomar sees teammate Devon White make history, becoming one of the only people to combine a lead-off home run with an extra-inning shot, in a 5-3 win over the Twins in 10 innings.
July 4, 1992: Nothing especially important, but still worth noting given this weekend’s festivities: on the day, Roberto Alomar faces his fellow Class of ’11 inductee Bert Blyleven for the only time. After retiring Alomar in his first trip to the plate, the young second baseman gets the better of Blyleven, with a triple and a walk. Baseball-Reference’s play-by-play lists it as a triple to shortstop. Wait—what? There’s one you don’t see too often.
Aug. 28, 1992: It’s the biggest shellacking Alomar ever experiences, as the Brewers beat the Jays 22-2, scoring in every inning but the fifth behind 31 hits. Alomar goes 1-for-4.
Aug. 31, 1992: In his 16th (and final) at bat against Charlie Hough, Roberto Alomar singles, for his only career hit against the knuckleballer. Alomar’s 1-for-16 mark against Hough is the worst he has against any pitcher he ever got a hit off of. Second worst is another knuckler, Tom Candiotti, who Alomar is 1-for-13 against.
Sept. 4, 1992: In the second inning against the Twins, Alomar takes part in one of the most impressive offensive eruptions of the year, as the Blue Jays rap out 10 consecutive hits. For his part, Alomar laces an RBI double and steals third base in the beat down. Toronto wins, 16-5.
Oct. 10, 1992: ALCS Game Three: In the top of the fourth inning, Roberto Alomar hits the first of his four career postseason home runs. It’s a solo shot off Ron Darling as the Blue Jays defeat the Oakland A’s, 7-5.
Oct. 11, 1992: ALCS Game Four: The Blue Jays top the A’s 7-6 in 11 innings, largely thanks to Roberto Alomar. With Toronto trailing 6-1 after seven innings, Alomar doubles and steals third in the eighth inning to spark a three-run Toronto inning. In the ninth, he bashes a two-run home run off uber-closer Dennis Eckersley to tie the game. In all, Alomar goes 4-for-5 with a walk, double, and home run.
Oct. 14, 1992: ALCS Game Six: The Blue Jays clinch their first pennant in franchise history in a 9-2 win over the A’s. Alomar again stars, with three hits and two stolen bases.
Oct. 17, 1992: World Series Game One: The first World Series game featuring a Canadian-based team gets off to an awkward/humorous start. During the pre-game national anthems, the Atlanta crew accidentally hoists Canada’s Maple Leaf flag upside down. Oops. The Braves win 3-1 as each team gets four hits apiece. Alomar is 0-for-4 on the day with a K.
Oct. 18, 1992: World Series Game Two: The Blue Jays pull off a comeback victory, defeating the Braves 5-4. Atlanta leads 4-2 in the eighth inning, but Toronto scores one in the top of the eighth and two more in the ninth. Alomar is the eighth inning run, as he doubles then.
Oct. 20, 1992: World Series Game Three: For the second straight game, Toronto rallies to win. Atlanta leads 2-1 heading into the bottom of the eighth, but Toronto scores once to tie it. In the bottom of the ninth, Alomar leads off with a single and proceeds to steal second base. After advancing to third on a sacrifice bunt, he scores on Candy Maldonado’s single for the 3-2 win.
Oct. 21, 1992: World Series Game Four: Toronto wins again, pulling within one game of the world championship. They defeat the Braves 2-1 despite collecting only six hits. Alomar has half of Toronto’s hits, but none lead to any runs.
Oct. 24, 1992: World Series Game Six: One of the most underrated World Series ever comes to an appropriate end: a dramatic extra inning game. In the bottom of the ninth, Toronto is one out from its first world title when Otis Nixon singles home a run to tie it, 2-2. Two innings later, Alomar singles and scores. It’s one of two runs that inning for Toronto, who stave off a desperate Atlanta rally in the bottom of the 11th to win, 4-3. Roberto Alomar is a world champion.
May 21, 1993: With Roberto Alomar playing second base, third base umpire Jim McKean ejects Toronto mascot B. J. Birdie for making gestures he found offensives. Ohhh-kay. Alomar goes 2-for-4 with three run in an 11-2 triumph over the Twins.
June 18, 1993: Speedy Roberto Alomar nails his only career inside the park home run during an 11-2 win over Boston at the Skydome.
Oct. 12, 1993: ALCS Game Six: The Blue Jays clinch their second consecutive pennant with a 6-3 win over the White Sox. Alomar is 1-for-5 in the game.
Oct. 20, 1993: World Series Game Four: It’s the sluggiest of slugfests in World Series history, as Toronto triumphs 15-14 over the Phillies. Alomar goes 2-for-6, and only ction in the sixth inning when he singles in Devon White and scores on a Tony Fernandez ground out. In the eighth inning, when Toronto scores six runs to take the lead, Alomar makes two outs, beginning and ending the inning by grounding out to third.
Oct. 21, 1993: World Series Game Five: It’s Curt Schilling’s first great October moment, as he shuts down the Blue Jays in a 2-0 complete game, saving Philly’s badly badgered bullpen. Alomar is one of the men shutdown, going 0-for-3 with a pair of Ks.
Oct. 23, 1993: World Series Game Six: It’s one of the most famous games in history as Joe Carter ends the World Series with a walk-off three-run home run for the second consecutive Toronto world title. Blue Jay manager Cito Gaston put Alomar in the #6 slot in the batting order, instead of his normal spot as a table-setter. In this different slot, Roberto Alomar goes 3-for-4 with a double. On defense he commits an error. In the first inning, Alomar laces an RBI single to help give Toronto an early lead. In the fourth he belts a leadoff double and then comes around to score.
July 14, 1994: While Roberto Alomar plays for the Toronto Blue Jays, teammate Joe Carter plays for the “Torotno” Blue Jays. The uniform maker misspelled the city name on the front of Carter’s jersey. The typo-laden Jays lose at Texas, 7-3.
May 2, 1995: Roberto Alomar bashes out his only career walk-off home run, a solo shot to defeat the White Sox, 9-8. It finishes off a day in which he goes 3-for-4 with three RBIs.
May 3, 1995: Roberto Alomar is on fire. One day after his only walk-off home run, he hits two homers against the White Sox. The second is a game-tying solo shot with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Toronto wins 8-7 in 10 innings.
July 2, 1995: Tales from the creepy: police arrest a woman with a .22 caliber pistol in Toronto’s SkyDome Hotel. She had previously threatened to kill Alomar because she couldn’t “establish a relationship” with him.
April 10, 1996: In his seventh game with his new team, Alomar draws a career-high four base on balls in one game, including one intentional walk. He doesn’t score, but Baltimore beats the Indians, 3-2.
April 27, 1996: Roberto Alomar faces off against pitcher Bobby Witt in 18 different games (including one in the postseason). This is the only one of them in which Alomar never gets on base against Witt. He grounds out, strikes out, and flies out instead. In his full career, Alomar hits .481/.526/.731 against Witt in 58 plate appearances.
July 1, 1996: Alomar returns to the Skydome for his first game against his old team. He goes 2-for-5 with a double in a 7-4 Baltimore win over Toronto. It’s halfway through the season and he’s hitting .365. He’ll bat .288 the rest of the way for a .328 average on the year.
Sept. 15, 1996: In the top of the third inning, Baltimore catcher Mark Parent belts a home run, the team’s 241st, breaking the 35-year old record by the 1961 Yankees for most homers by a club in one season. Alomar has contributed 21 on the year, and will knock out a 22nd one before the year ends.
Sept. 27, 1996: Ah yes, this game. It might be Alomar’s most famous moment. It’s certainly his most infamous moment. In the top of the first inning, after a tough eight-pitch at bat ends with a called third strike, Alomar argues with John Hirschbeck, and spits in the arbitrator’s face. That earns him a quick ejection though the powers that be opt to delay a five-game suspension until early 1997 instead of the upcoming postseason.
Oct. 5, 1996: ALDS Game Four: The Orioles clinch victory over the Indians in the ALDS in 12-inning 4-3 win. Alomar is the star. In the top of the ninth inning, he singles home the tying run to send the game into extra innings. Then he blasts a game-winning solo home run in the 12th to complete his 3-for-6 day.
Oct. 9, 1996: ALCS Game One: The Jeffrey Maier game. The Yankees beat the Orioles 5-4 in 11 innings in one of the most famous and controversial play-off games in recent times. With the Orioles leading 4-3 in the eighth inning, Derek Jeter hit a ball to the top of the wall in Yankee Stadium, that 12-year-old Maier reached over and caught. The umpire missed the fan interference, making this a game-tying home run. Alomar has a rotten game, 1-for-6 with three strikeouts.
April 26, 1997: Roberto Alomar has arguably his greatest game, belting a trio of homers in a 4-for-4 performance with six RBIs, helping Baltimore cruise to a 14-5 win over Boston. He homers in the second, fourth, and fifth innings. After that, he comes to the plate once more, and hits a deep ball to right, but it’s caught for an RBI sacrifice fly. His first homer on the day is his 100th career blast.
Oct. 8, 1997: ALCS Game One: Roberto Alomar blasts a two-run homer to guide Baltimore to a 3-0 win over the Indians. This will be Alomar’s big moment in this ALCS, as he goes 4-for-22 overall in it.
Oct. 11, 1997: ALCS Game Three: It’s a frustrating 12-inning loss for Alomar and the Orioles, as the Indians triumph, 2-1. Cleveland starter Orel Hershiser faces the minimum 18 batters in the first six innings despite letting the lead runner on base in four consecutive innings (all went down in double plays). Alomar has a single and receives two intentional walks, but never scores.
Oct. 12, 1997: ALCS Game Four: Alomar has a great game and helps lead his team to victory in a close game. Unfortunately, it’s Cleveland catcher Sandy Alomar Jr. with the great game, going 3-for-5 with a homer and four RBIs in Cleveland’s 8-7 win. Brother Roberto walks twice, and scores a run that ties the game 7-7 in the top of the ninth, but in the bottom of the frame Sandy singles home the game winner.
Oct. 15, 1997: ALCS Game Six: A tightly fought ALCS comes to an end when the Indians win 1-0 in 11 innings when Tony Fernandez homers for Cleveland (only the team’s third hit of the game). Roberto Alomar singles and draws a walk, and is one of only two Orioles to make it to third base all game.
Aug. 14, 1998: Roberto Alomar has a front row seat for a memorable game for Baltimore catcher Chris Hoiles, who belts a pair of grand slams in Baltimore’s 15-3 bombardment of the Indians. Alomar isn’t on base for either of Hoiles’ big blasts, but does go 4-for-6 with a stolen base.
Sept. 20, 1998: In Baltimore’s last home game of the season, veteran infielder Cal Ripken opts to take the day off, ending his consecutive games played streak at 2,632. The visiting Yankees win 5-4 despite a big day from Alomar, who goes 3-for-4 with a walk and stolen base.
May 7, 1999: This begins as a blowout, with a team taking an early eight-run lead. It ends as a blowout, with a nine-run margin of difference. Oddity: the team up early lost. After Tampa takes an early 9-1 lead, the Indians roar back with a preposterous 20-11 win, thanks to seven runs scored in each of the seventh and eighth innings. Alomar does his share, driving in five runs, and only missing the cycle by a double. Alomar drives in the team’s only early run with an RBI groundout in the third. He hits a grand slam in the eighth inning.
July 22, 1999: Cleveland manager Mike Hargrove has a bad day. He accidentally turns in the wrong lineup card to start the day, and do to a quirk in the rules that means the team can’t use a DH. Toronto wins 4-3, despite Alomar going 2-for-4 with an RBI.
Sept. 10, 1999: The Indians erupt for a 12-run inning in the top of the fourth against the White Sox en route to an easy 14-6 victory. Alomar leads off the inning with a single and proceeds to steal second and third. When he comes up again later in the inning, he draws a walk and scores when each of the next three batters also get a free pass (all against Chicago reliever Sean Lowe, who only faces those four batters).
Sept. 22, 1999: Roberto Alomar collects his 2,000th hit when he singles off Detroit’s Brian Moehler in the second inning. The Indians cruise to a 9-1 win.
Oct. 10, 1999: ALDS: Game Four: The Indians receive one of the all-time great postseason beatings, as the Red Sox maul them, 23-7. Alomar goes 0-for-3 with a walk before being pulled late for a garbage time substitute.
May 10, 2000: The Indians sit comfortably on an 8-1 lead at the seventh inning stretch, only to see the home team Minnesota Twins roar back for an unexpected 10-9 win. The final blow is a walk-off home run form Midre Cummings, who hits 22 long balls in 460 career games with seven different teams. Alomar has two singles and scores one run.
May 11, 2000: Alomar and Cleveland take out their frustrations from yesterday’s heartbreaking loss against mighty Midre Cummings and the Twins upon the hapless Royals. Result: a 16-0 Cleveland win. It’s the most lopsided victory of Alomar’s entire career.
May 20, 2000: Roberto Alomar garners over 1,000 walks in his career, but none better timed than this. With the bases loaded in a 2-2 game and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, ball four from the hands of Yankee relieve Jeff Nelson gives Alomar his only career walk-off walk.
July 3, 2001: Roberto Alomar enjoys his only five-hit game, going 5-for-5 with a double and two stolen bases as Cleveland beats Boston, 9-1.
Aug. 5, 2001: The Indians have one of the greatest comebacks of all-time, defeating the Mariners 15-14 in 12 innings after falling behind 12-0 and 14-2. Alomar, like many of Cleveland’s stars is on the bench when the comeback happened, as manager Charlie Manuel pulled them for what looked like garbage time. Instead, the backups score three in the seventh, four in the eighth, and five in the bottom of the ninth to tie it. Alomar was 0-for-2. Had it not been for this comeback, the 2001 Mariners would’ve won a record 117 games in a season.
Oct. 13, 2001: ALDS: Game 3: The Indians win one of the most one-sided post-season games ever, 17-2 over the Mariners. Alomar does his part, going 3-for-4 with two doubles. However, Seattle wins the next two games in what proves to be the last postseason series Alomar ever appears in.
April 30, 2002: At the conclusion of Alomar’s first month as a Met, teammate Al Leiter beats the Diamondbacks 10-1 to become the first person in baseball history to post a win against all 30 teams. Alomar, in one of his few great games as a Met, goes 3-for-4 with three runs and a triple.
April 11, 2003: The Mets go south to face the National League’s northernmost team. Or, if you’d rather, Alomar goes home for an away game. The Mets are the visitors when the Montreal Expos play their first official home game in Puerto Rico, where Alomar was born. Apparently it’s a nice home field advantage for Montreal, who wins 10-0 while two-hitting the Mets. Alomar draws a walk but doesn’t get a hit.
Alomar, getting old fast in New York.
First go-around with the White Sox
Aug. 11, 2003: According to WPA, this is the worst game of Alomar’s career. While the White Sox lose 10-8 to the Angels, Alomar is 0-for-6. As the game’s first batter, Alomar whiffs on three pitches – all called strikes. He then grounds out, lines out, and flies out. Finally, he helps kill big Sox rallies in each of the last two innings. In the eighth, with runners on the corners and one out, he bounces into an inning-ending double play. In the ninth, he’s up with the bases loaded and one out—and strikes out looking.
June 26, 2004: In an interleague game against Detroit, Roberto Alomar belts out his 500th double, becoming the 40th person to do so.
July 5, 2004: In the top of the ninth and down by one run, the Diamondbacks score a game-tying run off Dodger uber-closer Eric Gagne, ending his streak of successfully converted save opportunities at 84. Alomar has nothing to do with that inning, having singled in the eighth and hitting into a fielder’s choice in the 10th. Despite Gagne’s streak ending, the Dodgers win in the bottom of the 10th for a 6-5 win.
Last go-around with the White Sox
Sept. 5, 2004: Roberto Alomar plays his 2,379th and final game. In his 10,400th and final plate appearance, he strikes out. In fact, he struck out in both his times up in this game before being pulled in the fifth inning. Oddly enough, the pitcher fanning him even older than Alomar: Jamie Moyer, over five years Alomar’s senior. I wonder how many Hall of Famers who had a full career ended it by facing a pitcher even older than them?