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Does Alomar Belong In The Hall Of Fame?… Baseball Legend's Memory Sullied By Auction

Does Alomar Belong In The Hall Of Fame?

Andrew Lupton

23 March 2005
Copyright © 2005 National Post. All rights reserved.

Second base is a tough route to Cooperstown. Of the players whose careers ended after 1950, only seven second basemen have been enshrined in baseball's Hall of Fame.

With the importance of turning the double play and the frequency of difficult ground balls, managers will often accept good-glove, no-hit players at the position.

Rare is the second baseman who can field well enough to play every day while racking up Hall-worthy numbers at the plate.

Roberto Alomar, who retired last weekend after an outstanding 17-year career, is certain to enter baseball's Hall because he played on winning teams while putting up stats equal to, or better than, other second basemen already enshrined.

Consider his numbers: 10 Gold Gloves, 12 all-star appearances, 1,134 RBIs, a .300 lifetime batting average and, of course, two World Series victories, both with the Toronto Blue Jays, in 1992 and '93.

A generation of Canadian fans, many of whom were previously indifferent to baseball, will forever remember Alomar's acrobatic defensive plays and prowess at the plate during the glory years.

But often overlooked is what Alomar did after leaving Toronto.

He arrived in Baltimore in 1996 and led the Orioles to two consecutive ALCS appearances. He left after 1998 and the Orioles haven't seen a post-season since.

The following years in Cleveland, Alomar again made a difference, taking the Indians to the post-season in 1999 and 2001. Like the Orioles, Cleveland hasn't seen the post-season (where Alomar batted .313) since his departure.

In subsequent stops with the Mets, White Sox, Diamondbacks and Devil Rays, age and injuries took their toll. While it is clear he stayed in the game too long, Alomar's numbers compare well against other modern-era second basemen.

While Rod Carew had an amazing 3,053 hits (versus Alomar's 2,724) and a .328 lifetime batting average, he switched almost entirely to DH and first base 10 years into his 19-year career.

Alomar has more hits than Joe Morgan's 2,517, even though Alomar's career was a full five seasons shorter. Morgan hit for more power (268 homers versus Alomar's 210) but their RBI numbers and fielding percentages are virtually identical.

And what of Ryne Sandberg, who will enter the Hall this summer? He has much lower numbers in career batting average (.285) and hits (2,386) and more importantly, he did not so much as play in a World Series, never mind win two.

Alomar will never win any awards for congeniality. He spat on an umpire during an on-field argument in 1996, (but later apologized) and was often a malcontent. But he was a winner for almost his entire career and set a new standard for modern-era second basemen that is well worthy of a place in baseball's Hall of Fame.


Roberto Velazquez Alomar was born on Feb. 5, 1968, in Ponce, Puerto Rico.

- He debuted in the majors on April 22, 1988, playing second base for the San Diego Padres against the Houston Astros. In his first at-bat, facing Nolan Ryan, he singled. The Padres won, 3-1.

- Also playing for the Padres that year was his brother, Sandy Alomar.

- On Dec. 5, 1990, general manager Pat Gillick of the Toronto Blue Jays acquired Alomar and Joe Carter from the Padres for Tony Fernandez and Fred McGriff.

- Synonyms for the deal: hornswoggle, bamboozle, denude.

- The Jays won the World Series in 1992 and 1993.

- The Padres have never won the World Series.

- After leaving Toronto as a free agent in December, 1995, Alomar travelled the continent, playing for the Orioles, Indians, Mets, White Sox, Diamondbacks and White Sox again.

- Also playing for the White Sox that year was his brother, Sandy Alomar.

Source: National Post

Baseball Legend's Memory Sullied By Auction

George Diaz

June 10, 2005
Copyright © 2005 ORLANDO SENTINEL. All rights reserved.

There is a market for everything in this world.

But what price tag would you put on desecrating someone's memory? Are you willing to sell your soul to profit from a family's pain and suffering? Is there any point in which your conscience digs in and consumes you with guilt and self-loathing?

Apparently, the exemplary human beings at Lelands have no such ethical dilemmas, much less ethics. There are 48 items of Roberto Clemente-related memorabilia up for auction on their Web site, two of which border on the macabre:

They are pieces of the prop plane that crashed in the Caribbean shortly after takeoff from San Juan, Puerto Rico on Dec. 31, 1972, killing Clemente, the pilot, and a three-man crew. They were on a mercy mission, taking supplies to aid the survivors of an earthquake in Nicaragua.

Gloves, pictures, hand-written letters, equipment bags, photos and even a business card are also included in the auction. They are all legitimate items that could be considered sentimental keepsakes for fans of one of the greatest baseball players of this generation.

But how does airplane rubble constitute nostalgic souvenirs?

Understandably, Clemente's family is incredulous.

"It's a shame that something so sacred to my family would go on the market like this," Roberto Clemente Jr. told the New York Times. "It's ridiculous. It has nothing to do with baseball. He's a human being. He lost his life. There's nothing funny about that."

Representatives for Lelands did not contact the Clemente family prior to placing the items up for auction. The family is contemplating legal action.

"Obviously, we're talking to attorneys. ... We're going to try to stop this," Roberto Clemente Jr. said in a television interview later this week.

Beyond the travesty of an otherwise reputable online auction house "specializing in sports and Americana memorabilia" including airplane wreckage as a slice of Americana, there are idiots who have bid on these items.

The gray steel propeller, 14 inches across and 79 inches long, has fetched six bids and was up to $1,610.51. The light metal piece, measuring 19 inches by 14 inches at its largest point, is up $1,996.50. Bidding is scheduled to continue until June 24.

Clemente, a proud and introspective man, would no doubt cringe that his legacy was negotiable to the highest bidder. Clemente was a great a baseball player. He stockpiled 12 Gold Glove awards for his defensive ability, four silver bats for his four National League batting titles, two World Series championship rings from 1960 and 1971, and a Most Valuable Player Award from the '71 Series.

Do yourself a favor one day and find some vintage footage of his darts from right field or his graceful strides around the bases -- and you'll embrace what old-school is all about.

But the greatest measure of Clemente was his spirit, his compassion and his generosity. He died with a purpose, compelled to help the victims of an earthquake that killed about 6,000 people and left another 100,000 homeless.

Clemente's body was never found, only a sock and his briefcase.

In the ensuing days of emotional chaos following the plane crash, Clemente's wife, Vera, stood for hours heartbroken on the beach as U.S. Navy divers searched the waters for remnants of the plane. Manny Sanguillen, his beloved Pittsburgh Pirates teammate, plunged into the waters incessantly, looking for his friend.

Fortunately, their tears are not for sale.

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