See you in the hall of fame #12

The year was 1991. My father was taking me on my first trip to Toronto's then world class entertainment centre Skydome. My friends would all attest that nobody would rival me as the biggest Blue Jays fan in the world at this point in my life. A lot had changed for the team in the preceding months. The Blue Jays had been involved in one of the great blockbuster trades to that point in baseball history, sending one of the best power hitters in the majors Fred McGriff and Blue Jays legend Tony Fernandez to the San Diego Padres for clutch RBI man Joe Carter and an up and coming prospect at second base. I can recall much debate over this trade. McGriff was consistantly among the American League's homerun leaders, and Fernandez was already an icon after several all star appearances and a major contribution to the Blue Jays AL East crowns in 1985 and 1989. As much as I loved the two players leaving, I was in support of the trade. I had always respected Carter for being such a consistent run producer...and I had a feeling that the kid they were bringing in to play at second was going to work out pretty well too.

As we all now know, the kid's name was Roberto Alomar. Robbie made an immediate impact, becoming the starting second baseman in the all star game his first year in Toronto and helping them to the AL East title that season. He was already the most exciting defensive player to watch in the majors. I have yet to see a player with the range and playmaking ability from the middle infield that Alomar possessed. Over the next couple of seasons Alomar's offensive skill improved to a point that I considered him the best all around player in the majors. He was among the best contact hitters in the game, had the speed to steal 50 bases, had some pop in his bat, and was undeniably the all time best defensive player at his position. Along with Carter and a few other key pieces Pat Gillick added to the puzzle, he lead the Blue Jays to a run of success that the city will likely never duplicate with any of their sports franchises.

Unfortunately, all good things come to an end at some point. When it was apparent that the Blue Jays were going into a rebuilding faze (which still continues to this day) after the two World Series titles, the relationship that Alomar had with the fans in the city went sour. He became very vocal against trades the team was making and even sat out games in protest, tarnishing his once impeccable reputation. Alomar may have been the greatest sports hero the city of Tornoto ever had, but it was never the same after the events of 1995. I too felt betrayed by the man who once was my hero. He was booed loudly everytime he returned to play for an opposing team - something that was unthinkable when he was the toast of the town in the early 1990's. The worst incident of his career though came in 1996 when he spat in the face of umpire John Hirshbeck. Fans all over baseball turned on Alomar at that point, and he never regained popularity close to what he had in Tornoto again.

Alomar signed with the Devil Rays this past offseason, but yesterday decided to hang up his cleats. His skills had diminished greatly over the past three seasons and it's probably a wise decision on his part. I have held a lot of anger towards Alomar for the past 10 years for the way he turned his back on all of us Blue Jays fans who showered him with love, and the events involving Hirshbeck. However, upon hearing him announce his retirement tonight I immediately felt some emotion. I am a huge sports fan, and I have never had a bigger sports hero in my lifetime than Roberto Alomar. The memories he has left me with from the seasons of 1991-1993 will forever be my greatest of any athlete. I listen to people my father's age talk about how it felt watching Mickey Mantle and Reggie Jackson play. I will someday be telling the younger generations what it was like to watch Robbie Alomar play. To watch him play defense was magical, and whenever he stepped into the batters box I always had a feeling that he was going to make something happen. Forgive me Llyod Moseby, but Alomar truly was "the Shaker" - the guy who would get things going when the team needed it, and the guy you could count on in the clutch.

It would be an injustice if Alomar is not a hall of famer on the first ballot. His offensive numbers, gold gloves, and playoff performances rank him among the all time greats. My greatest Alomar memory is him jogging down the first base line in the 1992 ALCS with his arms in the air after belting a 3 run homer off a cocky Dennis Ekersley, which became the turning point not only in that series, but in Blue Jays history. I knew at that point the Blue Jays were finally going to find success in the playoffs. Our relationship deteriorated over the years Robbie, but I will always hold your years in Tornoto among my greatest sports memories.


@ 11:24 AM, ack kicked the following game:

CATCHA DE TASTE!

 

@ 1:04 PM, naedoo kicked the following game:

You are right, the only shaking Moseby did was trying to shakedown employees at Toronto's Niketown for free stuff. Saw it with my own eyes.

Robbie Alomar would have been given crazy free stuff at Niketown.

 

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