Blyleven, Alomar appear one year away
Each falls less than 10 votes shy of election to Hall of Fame
The Hall of Fame came knocking and pitcher Bert Blyleven fell five votes short. Second baseman Roberto Alomar came up eight votes shy of election to Cooperstown.
The prolific pair spent the day celebrating Andre Dawson's election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday, but if history is any indicator, next year they will be getting ready for a celebration of their own.
Blyleven, who had 400 of the 539 votes this year, up from 338 in 2009, came close to reaching the 75 percent needed to gain enshrinement with 74.2 percent of the votes. Alomar, who was on the ballot for the first time, received 397 votes (73.7 percent), the most of any first-year candidate not elected.
No candidate measuring above the 70 percent mark has missed election into the Hall of Fame. Last year, Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice were voted in with 98.4 percent and 76.4 percent, respectively.
"I was hoping that three of us would be elected," Blyleven said. "First off, congratulations to Andre Dawson on getting in. But I thought Roberto Alomar would go in as well. I thought it would be cool to go in with him because I kind of watched him grow up when I played with his dad in Texas. Hopefully we'll go in together next year now."
Blyleven, who missed the cut last year with 62.7 percent of the vote, gets two more tries on the Baseball Writers' Association of America ballot. The highest percentage for a player who didn't enter the Hall in a later year was 63.4 percent by Gil Hodges in 1983.
"As I sit here, it's awful to think about five votes," Dawson said about Blyleven. "I feel for him that he has to wait another year. Five votes are very hard to swallow."
Dawson received 420 votes on his ninth try. He was 44 votes short of enshrinement last year.
"Blyleven should be in," Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer said. "The writers are the reason you get in, and I don't want to disparage writers because if they hadn't voted for me, I wouldn't be in the Hall of Fame. But it's almost like they forget how good Bert was. Everybody talks about his curveball, but he threw hard and he was durable. He was the guy you'd hand the ball to every fourth or fifth day. He had a great windup, which is why he pitched that long. If you needed a strikeout, he could get one. He was just a marvelous player and pitcher."
Blyleven's 287 wins are good enough for 27th on the all-time list. He is fifth in career strikeouts, with 3,701, and ninth in career shutouts, with 60. Of the top 20 pitchers on the career shutouts list, only Blyleven is not in the Hall of Fame.
"Five votes short is a little on the sad side," Blyleven said. "But I'm proud that it jumped up 12 percent from last year, and I really appreciate that."
Several other players also received more votes in 2010 than in 2009. Pitcher Jack Morris got 52.3 percent of the votes (282 votes), up from 44 percent last year. Reliever Lee Smith received 15 more votes this year to boost his total to 47.3 percent, the highest rate since he was put on the ballot in 2003.
Slugger Mark McGwire received 128 votes, good enough for 23.7 percent, up from 118 in 2009. Shortstop Barry Larkin and designated hitter Edgar Martinez earned 278 votes and 195 votes, respectively, in their first appearance on the ballot.
Other familiar names also saw an increase in votes in 2010. Outfielder Tim Raines received 164, 42 more than in 2009, and Alan Trammel's tally rose from 94 to 121. Don Mattingly had 87 votes, 23 more than in 2009, while Dave Parker and Dale Murphy saw small increases from 81 to 82 and 62 to 63, respectively.
"I'm disappointed, but I feel good," Alomar said. "Sometimes the writers have reasons not to vote for you, so you just have to deal with the situation. I had a lot of votes."
Alomar and Blyleven expect even more in 2011.
Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.