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Roberto Alomar Velázquez (born February 5, 1968 in Ponce, Puerto Rico) is a former Major League Baseball player (1988-2004), considered by many to be one of the best second basemen in history and holds the record for most Gold Glove awards at that position. Alomar has also won the second most Silver Slugger awards for a second baseman.
A native of Salinas, Puerto Rico, Alomar was a switch-hitter and threw right-handed. He is the son of Sandy Alomar Sr.; a former All-Star second baseman with a 15-year MLB experience. His older brother, Sandy Jr., is a major league catcher.
Toronto Blue Jays
Alomar broke into the Major Leagues in 1988 with the San Diego Padres, where he was regarded as an excellent fielder with speed and a solid bat. Defensively, he displayed excellent lateral range, often making spectacular plays on ground balls hit deep in the hole between first and second base, and on balls hit up the middle well behind second base. In 1991 he and Joe Carter were traded to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez. It was in Toronto that he developed into a premier offensive second baseman, combining a .300-plus batting average with some pop and a continued threat on the bases. In 1993 he batted .326, third in the league behind teammates John Olerud and Paul Molitor. He was a large part of Toronto's World Series championships in 1992 and 1993. Next to Joe Carter's World Series-winning shot in 1993, his home run against Dennis Eckersley in the 1992 ALCS is considered by many as the most important hit in the club's history. His service in Toronto will be honoured in the summer of 2007, when the Blue Jays add his name and number to the club's "Level of Excellence".
In 1995 Alomar moved to greener pastures, signing with the Baltimore Orioles at a time when Toronto was moving to rebuild and Baltimore was building toward a championship-calibre team. He would play again in the playoffs in 1996 and 1997 for the Orioles, although the Orioles were defeated in the American League Championship Series in both years.
On September 27, 1996, Alomar gained notoriety when, during a game against his former team, the Blue Jays, he got into a heated argument over a called third strike with umpire John Hirschbeck and spit in his face. He defended himself by saying Hirschbeck had uttered a racial slur and that Hirschbeck had been bitter ever since one of his son's had died of ALD, and then learned that another one had it also. He was suspended for five games and donated $50,000 to ALD research. Alomar and Hirschbeck settled their differences publicly and made apologies to each other on April 22, 1997, standing at home plate and shaking hands in front of the crowd before an Orioles game and now consider one another friends. Regarding the incident at his retirement, Alomar said, "That, to me, is over and done. It happened over nine years ago. We are now great friends. We have done some things with charity. God put us maybe in this situation for something. But I think people who know me, people who have had the chance to be with me on the same team, know what kind of person I am. Anything I ever did wrong, I would confront it and now it is OK." Lawyers for Hirschbeck later persuaded Alomar to donate $252,000 toward research for the disease Adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD)
In 1999 Alomar signed with the Cleveland Indians, joining his brother, Sandy Jr. It was in Cleveland that Roberto would have two of his finest seasons—and perhaps two of the finest seasons ever for a second baseman. In 1999 he hit .323/.422/.533 with 24 HRs, 120 RBIs and 37 stolen bases, and in 2001 he collected .336/.415/.541, 20, 100 and 30. Cleveland would make the playoffs in both years only to lose in the American League Division Series. Alomar finished 3rd in MVP voting in 1999.
On the field, Alomar teamed with shortstop Omar Vizquel to form one of the most decorated defensive combinations of all time. In 2000, with Vizquel committing just three errors all season long, the entire infield committed 34 errors—just one more than the record set by the New York Mets infield the year before. As a result, Vizquel, Alomar and third baseman Travis Fryman each won the Gold Glove Award that season, and the Vizquel-Alomar duo won three consecutive Gold Gloves together, joining a select list of only eight shortstop-second baseman duos to have accomplished this feat in the same year.
In his career, Alomar established remarkable milestones for a second baseman, including:
- making twelve straight All-Star teams (1990–2001)
- winning a record ten gold gloves at second base (1991–96,1998–2001)
- batting over .300 nine times (1992–1997, 1999–2001)
- posting an OBP over .400 five times (1992–93, 1996, 1999, 2001)
- scoring 100 or more runs six times (1992–93, 1996, 1999–2001)
- driving in 100 or more runs twice (1999, 2001)
- stealing 30 or more bases eight times (1989, 1991–93, 1995, 1999–2001)
- and winning four Silver Slugger awards (1992, 1996, 1999–2000)
In 2002, Alomar hit only .266/.331/.376 with 53 RBIs and 73 runs scored while falling apart defensively at second base. The Mets were puzzled by Alomar's mediocre play, which is generally attributed to his lack of comfort with being under the scrutiny of the New York fans and media. However, not even a midseason trade back to the American League to the Chicago White Sox in 2003 could revive Alomar from his funk. There was more misery ahead with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2004, after missing two months with a broken right hand. On August 5, he returned to the White Sox, and finished hitting just .263/.321/.392 in 56 games.
Alomar agreed to a one-year contract with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for the 2005 season. However,on March 19 2005, after a spring plagued by back and vision trouble, he decided to retire from the game.
In a 17-year career, Alomar was a .300/.371/.443 hitter with 210 home runs and 1134 RBI in 2379 games.
There is some disagreement on what was Roberto Alomar's most productive season. Some believe that it was 1999, when he slugged 24 home runs, stole 37 bases, hit for a .323 average and knocked in 120 runs. However, others believe that it was 1993, when he slugged 17 home runs, stole 55 bases, hit for a .326 average and knocked in 93 runs.
- Signed as a non-drafted free agent by San Diego Padres (February 16, 1985).
- Traded by San Diego Padres with Joe Carter to Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez (December 5, 1990).
- Granted free agency (October 30, 1995).
- Signed by Baltimore Orioles (December 21, 1995).
- Granted free agency (October 26, 1998).
- Signed by Cleveland Indians (December 1, 1998).
- Traded by Cleveland Indians with Michael Bacsik and Danny Peoples to New York Mets in exchange for Matt Lawton, Alex Escobar, Jerrod Riggan and 2 players to be named later (December 11, 2001); Cleveland Indians received Earl Snyder and Billy Traber (December 13, 2001).
- Traded by New York Mets with cash to Chicago White Sox in exchange for Edwin Almonte, Royce Ring and Andrew Salvo (July 1, 2003).
- Granted free agency (October 30, 2003).
- Signed by Arizona Diamondbacks (January 6, 2004).
- Traded by Arizona Diamondbacks to Chicago White Sox in exchange for a player to be named later (August 5, 2004); Arizona Diamondbacks received Brad Murray (February 18, 2005).
- Granted free agency (November 3, 2004).
- Signed by Tampa Bay Devil Rays (January 20, 2005).
The Alomars became the first brothers in the history of MLB to win the All Star MVP Award, which they won in consecutive years (1997 and 1998).
He used to date French-Canadian tennis ace Mary Pierce.