Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven, Indians for a Time, Hall of Famers Forever
By Matt Van Wormer
While spending the majority of his career with the Minnesota Twins (surely the hat he will be wearing on his plaque), Blyleven spent four and a half seasons wearing the Chief Wahoo logo on his hat. Blyleven was a model of consistency during one of the roughest stretches in Indians’ history, racking up 48 of his 287 wins on the shores of Lake Erie. If it weren’t for an elbow injury that took him out of most of the 1982 season, it’s conceivable that Blyleven could be in the 300-win club and would have been inducted into the Hall of Fame a long time ago. Blyleven was the Rookie of the Year in 1970 earning ten wins from June 2 on.
Then in 1984, Blyleven had his finest season in a Tribe uniform. During that season, he started 32 games, completed 12 of them, threw four shutouts and won 19 games with an ERA of just 2.87. Blyleven gave up only 19 home runs that season and was third in the American League Cy Young voting. He finished third again in 1985 when he threw an astounding 24 complete games. He was traded back to his original team, the Twins, midway through that season and ended up helping the Twins win the 1987 World Series.
Blyleven’s career numbers definitely are worthy of the Hall of Fame, and it is a shame that he had to wait so long to enjoy the ability of making that induction speech. Blyleven’s 4,970 1/3 innings pitched are the 13th most in Major League history, and he completed 242 of the games he started. The man with one of the best curveballs in the history of the game is a great addition to the Hall of Fame.
Alomar nearly was a first ballot Hall of Famer, but fell just short of the votes needed to gain entry last year. Alomar was a career .300 hitter, 1992 ALCS MVP, twelve time All-Star selection (MVP in 1998), four time Silver Slugger and ten time Gold Glove winner, winning it in conjunction with Omar Vizquel three times. The chemistry those two players shared on the field was unmatched by any up-the-middle-combo of the generation, even if their off-the-field relationship was anything but cordial.
While with the Toronto Blue Jays, Alomar earned two World Series rings in back to back years (1992, 1993) and was a key component of both those teams. Some of his best offensive years, though, were in Cleveland. He hit .323 with the Indians, including 63 home runs and 114 doubles, stole 106 bases and completed numerous defensive gems. Alomar committed just 26 errors in 2,183 total chances.
Both of these men are very deserving of their inductions into Cooperstown. While neither will go into the Hall as Indians, their contributions to the team and the city of Cleveland are great and Tribe fans should be proud to be able to call them a part of our history.