© 2011 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
07/23/11 4:18 PM ET
Families on the minds of Class of 2011
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- It was a day for families on Saturday as the inductees readied themselves for entry into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Bert Blyleven played golf in the morning with his brother, son and brother-in-law, arriving fashionably late for the pre-induction media conference at the Clark Sports Center.
"We lost about 20 balls, but we had a good time," Blyleven said. "My son is a terrible golfer, though. Of the 20 balls we lost, 18 were his."
Roberto Alomar spent time at the Otesaga Hotel with his mother, Maria, and his ball-playing father and brother, Sandy Sr. and Sandy Jr.
"It's a beautiful town. I love this town, I might move here," said Alomar, who hails from Puerto Rico. "Is there a real estate guy here? No really, it's a beautiful place. But I haven't gone out anywhere much. I'm just enjoying the time with my family and my friends and my new family -- the Hall of Fame."
And Pat Gillick walked with his wife among fans, who crowded the baseball memorabilia shops and autograph-signing Hall of Famers, lining Main Street in the tiny village.
"This is a great weekend for us old guys," Gillick said. "Sometimes we take baseball too seriously. We need to relax a little bit and kick back a little bit. This is a great time for us old guys to think about the past, to think about the way things used to be -- and have a great time."
The right-handed pitcher, second baseman and general manager are scheduled to be inducted under hot and sunny skies behind the Clark Sports Center on Sunday during ceremonies that will be broadcast live on MLB.com and MLB Network, beginning with pre-induction analysis at 11:30 a.m. ET.
These induction ceremonies have a distinct Canadian flavor, with Alomar having played for the Blue Jays when Gillick constructed the team. Together they won the World Series in 1992 and '93, the only time a Canadian team has done so. Alomar is the first member of the Blue Jays to go into the Hall with a Blue Jays logo engraved on his plaque.
Gillick said that these inductions are a "feel good story" for Canada.
"I lived up there for close to 30 years and I'm excited to be going in," said Gillick, who was a general manager for four teams and is currently a consultant for the Phillies upon retiring after they won the 2008 World Series. "From a sentimental standpoint, it's wonderful. If I had a choice, I'd also go in wearing a Blue Jays cap."
Alomar played for seven teams, but called his five years in Toronto the apex of his career, despite leaving under somewhat cloudy circumstances as a free agent. Gillick, who had left to become Baltimore's general manager, signed Alomar.
"I always loved the Toronto Blue Jays fans," said Alomar, who has now returned to that organization as a consultant. "It doesn't matter that they booed me when I left. I don't think they understood what really happened. It really was the opportunity I had to go to the Orioles and win another championship. As a ballplayer, you want to win. You want to win championships. The Blue Jays wanted to go in a different direction.
"My father always gave this advice -- fans boo the great players. So that means if they booed me I was doing something good."
Alomar knows he's fortunate. His father is retired from the game, and at 67 years old, is still a major presence in his life. Blyleven, the first player of Dutch descent going into the Hall, would have loved his dad, Joe, to be here to see this day, but he has passed.
"My dad is here in spirit," he said. "My mother cried because she wished that my dad was here. But he's here. I feel it. Maybe he's not here body-wise, but he is here spirit-wise. He's the one in my speech tomorrow that I'm going to thank a lot because he's the one who mentored me. He introduced me to the game of baseball.
"But my mother is here and in good health. She's Dutch and she's stubborn. She raised seven kids."
Alomar was the youngest of three kids who grew up in the tiny town of Salinas on the southern coast of Puerto Rico. As a youngster, he traveled at times during the baseball seasons with his dad, and Gillick recalled that Robbie jumped on to his radar as a little kid when Alomar Sr. played for the Yankees and Gillick worked for three years in the New York front office.
Alomar, now 43, has come full circle. It's his dad who has traveled to be with him for the induction ceremony.
"My dad has had a big impact on my career," Alomar said. "Everything I've done, I owe to him. He taught me the right way to play the game of baseball. Growing up seeing all these great ballplayers helped me to become the player I was."