Carroll County Times

Alomar elected to Orioles Hall of Fame

Editor's Note: Wednesday's game at Seattle ended too late to be included in this edition.

Roberto Alomar didn't have a long career with the Baltimore Orioles. But he made an impact.

The Gold Glove second baseman, who played in Baltimore from 1996-98, making the All-Star Game in all three of those seasons and helping the Orioles reach the postseason twice, has been elected to the Orioles Hall of Fame, the team announced Wednesday.

He and former club executive Don Pries will be inducted Aug. 2 before that night's Orioles-Mariners game at Camden Yards.

Alomar, elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2011, said he was surprised by his induction into the Orioles' Hall but that he enjoyed his time in Baltimore despite a controversial incident in 1996 that followed him for the rest of his career.

"From a baseball standpoint I had some great years with them," said Alomar, who thanked the fans and his former teammates during a Wednesday conference call. "I wish we could have brought a World Series to Baltimore. We came up short, but I had some great memories there."

Alomar batted .312 with 50 home runs and 210 RBIs in 412 regular-season games with the Orioles. His .312 career average is the highest among all players in franchise history with at least 1,200 at-bats for the team

Alomar was already a two-time World Series champion with the Toronto Blue Jays when he signed with the Orioles as a free agent prior to the 1996 season. At that time, Baltimore hadn't been to the postseason in 13 years.

"I got motivated by playing with the guys I played around, guys like Cal Ripken, Eric Davis, Raffy Palmeiro, Brady Anderson, all those great players," he said. "I think they taught me a lot. What I brought to the ballclub was a winning attitude."

The Orioles did win, making the playoffs as a wild-card team in 1996 with Alomar at the top of his game.

In addition to winning the sixth of his 10 Gold Glove awards, Alomar set a franchise record with 132 runs scored and also led the team in batting average (.328), hits (193), doubles (43) and on-base percentage (.411). He set team records for home runs (20 of his 22 total) and RBI (84 of his 94 total) as a second baseman in a single season.

"I was feeling good, I had no injuries, I was playing great," Alomar said. "Yes, I can say it was one of my best years in my career."

But the season was not without controversy. On Sept. 27, 1996, Alomar got into an argument with home-plate umpire John Hirschbeck and spat in his face. The scene made national headlines, but Alomar said the two men moved on.

"In life, you make mistakes and that was one of the mistakes I made," said Alomar, noting that he and Hirschbeck became "great friends" and moved past the incident. "I wish it wouldn't have happened. It's a cloud that I have to live with."

Alomar batted .333 in 1997, but injuries and a suspension stemming from the Hirschbeck incident cost him 50 games. Still, he helped the Orioles win the AL East with baseball's best record (98-64). But the team lost in six games to the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS.

"There's always regret when you don't reach your goal," Alomar said. "We wanted to go all the way. We had the team to do it."

Alomar's final season in Baltimore didn't go as well. While he won another Gold Glove and was the MVP of the All-Star Game, he batted just .282 and the Orioles finished below .500. He signed with the Cleveland Indians as a free agent in the offseason.

Alomar played 18 seasons in the majors with seven different teams, batting .300 with 210 home runs and 474 stolen bases. He was a 12-time All-Star and is one of 12 players who played for the Orioles to be enshrined in Cooperstown.

Pries worked for the Orioles from 1968-74, overseeing the team's farm system during a time when they went to the playoffs five times in seven years.

Alomar is currently working as a special adviser with the Blue Jays. He said he follows the Orioles and likes what they've done the past few years.

"I believe that the Orioles have a great manager, knows the game real well, and they've done a great job in their minor league system," he said. "They've proven if you play baseball the right way, you can win a lot of games."