Monday, August 5, 2013

#50 Roberto Alomar

About the Front: Topps went all out for Roberto Alomar's photo, going with a wide-angle shot of the Blue Jays' second baseman turning the double play in Cleveland as Carlos Baerga slides into the bag beneath him. In the background, you can see Mel Harder's #18 on the Cleveland Stadium outfield wall; the Tribe had retired the star pitcher's number in 1990. I have enough contextual information to tell you that this photo was probably taken on June 28, 1992, in the midst of a 7-6 Indians win. Baerga was wiped out at second on a double play twice that day and was also caught stealing, but he did go 3-for-4 with two RBI. Robbie was 1-for-5 with a double in a losing effort.

About the Back: Who would've guessed that Kelly Gruber had two steals in an All-Star Game? That's probably the only time the former Toronto third baseman has ever been mentioned in the same breath as Willie Mays.

Triple Play:

1. Roberto comes from a baseball family, as father Sandy Sr. played second base and shortstop for 15 seasons for the Angels and five other teams. Brother Sandy Jr. was a catcher for 20 years for the Indians and six other teams. Roberto and Sandy, Jr. were teammates in Cleveland (1999-2000) and with the White Sox (2003-2004).

2. You might remember Alomar's most infamous on-field moment. On September 27, 1996, umpire John Hirschbeck called the Orioles second baseman out on strikes and Roberto argued vehemently. As manager Davey Johnson tried to restrain the irate Alomar, he spat on the umpire. Robbie claimed that Hirschbeck had uttered a racial slur, and claimed that the ump had been embittered by his son's death from the disease known as ALD. Roberto was ultimately suspended for five games and made a $50,000 donation to ALD research, and he and Hirschbeck later reconciled.

3. Roberto had many superlative postseason performances, highlighted by his effort in the 1993 World Series against the Phillies: .480/.519/.640, with 12 hits in 25 at-bats. He drove in six runs and stole four bases in the series.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: Have you ever heard a player described as the kind of guy you'd hate if he played for someone else, but someone you'd love if he played for your own team? That's how I felt about Alomar. I couldn't stand him when he was with the Jays, but I sure didn't mind him when he was helping the Orioles reach the postseason in 1996 and 1997.

Bill James Said: "His possibilities are endless-could get 4,000 hits or 400 homers or steal a thousand bases." Of course, Roberto did none of the above, as his last good season came at 33 and he was out of baseball at 36. Still, 2,724 hits (.300/.371/.443), 210 home runs, and 474 steals, along with 10 Gold Gloves, were enough to get him to Cooperstown.

On This Date in 1993: August 5. Your humble blogger celebrated his 11th birthday. If I recall correctly, my parents gave me a box of 1993 Topps Series Two...36 packs of cards to rip = the gift that keeps on giving!


  1. Alomar and Baerga were both traded for Joe Carter almost exactly one year apart, and end up together on this card.

    And Happy Birthday.

  2. Jeff - Alomar was traded with Carter, actually. But your point still stands. Good catch!

  3. There is slight echoes of the famous 1953 Bowman Color Pee Wee Reese? No?

  4. Oh, two more things. Watching him on the Mets was painful so he was definitely the kind of player you could hate on your own team as well.

    And happy belated birthday.

  5. Max - I could see this as an homage to the Reese card. Also, I do remember Alomar sleepwalking his way to a .765 OPS in his last year in Baltimore, then suddenly turning back into a beast in I know what you mean with your second comment.

  6. You got a whole box of cards for your birthday? That sounds awesome! When I first got back into the hobby in 2011, I bought a box of '92 Ultra at a garage sale and kept thinking how much eight or nine year old me would've been freaking out to open so many cards at once.

  7. Backstop - It was indeed awesome. I've done the same thing since I jumped back into the hobby. It's still a blast ripping a box, whether it's Allen and Ginter or 1989 Donruss.