BALTIMORE - Roberto Alomar's career with the Baltimore Orioles didn't last long, but it helped the second baseman reach the pinnacle of his sport.
Alomar joined the National Baseball Hall of Fame two year ago after 17 seasons in the major leagues. Now he's in another exclusive club - on Friday the 12-time All-Star became the 52nd member of the Orioles Hall of Fame.
Alomar played in Baltimore for three seasons (1996-98) and was part of two postseason teams. He called Camden Yards his favorite place to play.
"I believe the three years I had here with the Orioles, personally, would maybe be the best of my career," he said. "To me, it's a fun ballpark. I believe that this ballpark is the best ballpark in the game of baseball, especially to play. It's a beautiful ballpark."
His best year was 1996, when Alomar batted .328 with 22 home runs and 94 RBIs and led the Orioles to their first playoff berth in 13 seasons. He added 43 doubles and 132 runs scored, a franchise record.
Alomar called 1996 his best season as a professional.
Alomar left town after the 1998 season, at age 30, and headed to Cleveland, where he put together three more successful years.
In all, he played for seven teams and collected more than 2,700 hits, 500 doubles, 470 stolen bases, and 200 home runs, and finished with a lifetime batting average of .300.
Not to mention Alomar earned 10 Gold Glove Awards and is considered by many to be the best second baseman of all-time.
The recognition seemed to stun Alomar a little.
"It's an honor as a ballplayer," he said. "I never expected this phone call from the Orioles. I only played here for three years and it caught me by surprise. But to be selected by such a great, elite group of players, it is an honor. It is a dream come true for myself."
Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said he was in awe of Alomar when he was in the prime of his career, first with Toronto for a pair of World Series titles and then Baltimore.
"Robbie always seemed like there was always another level he could go to," Showalter said before Friday's game. "He could almost will things to happen."
Alomar was joined in this year's Orioles Hall of Fame class by Don Pries, who is this year's Herb Armstrong Award winner.
Pries worked with the club from 1968-74 as an area scout, director of player personnel, and assistant to the general manager. Pries oversaw the farm system and was part of the most successful stretch in club history - Baltimore reached the playoffs five times, won three AL pennants, and the 1970 World Series.
"I've been a part of the industry where basically you are in the background through an organization that is successful because of leadership," Pries said Friday morning. "And that leadership has to put the right people in the right places. That takes a learning process. I've found that in my years with the Orioles we had that. ... It filters on down from the standpoint of having a plan and having that plan come about."
Alomar was part of the Orioles' wire-to-wire AL East champion team in 1997 that seemed destined to play in the World Series. But Cleveland upset Baltimore in the ALCS and denied Alomar a third World Series trip.
But helping the Orioles back to the postseason as one of the game's premier players is what Alomar said he'll remember most about his time in Charm City.
"Getting the chance to play with such a great team and a great organization. And I had a lot of fun playing beside Cal Ripken," Alomar said. "He's the guy here in Baltimore. And playing in front of the crowd is something I'll remember for life."