Roberto Alomar's election to the Baseball Hall of Fame didn't happen on the first ballot, but that doesn't make the first Toronto Blue Jays player to be enshrined in Cooperstown any less deserving. And Alomar used his classy speech at the 2011 Hall of Fame induction ceremony to express his gratitude to everyone who helped him along the way.
Alomar's older brother, Sandy Alomar, Jr., reminisced in his tribute video. The elder Alomar talked about "Robbie" sleepwalking with a bat as a child, and recounted the brothers' shared minor league experience. Sandy complained about sleeping on a couch all year in a one-bed apartment the brothers shared at the AA level after agreeing with Roberto that the Alomar with the better day would get the bed, protesting "And I hit .300, too!"
Roberto Alomar's speech was heavy on praise for others. The bilingual Alomar began in Spanish, telling the crowd that he was "proud to be Puerto Rican," and that he always played for Puerto Rico. Alomar also paid tribute to Orlando Cepeda and Roberto Clemente. Citing his anxiety about speaking English, his second language, Alomar said "I played the game of baseball in front of thousands of people all my life, but I must say that I'd rather be playing the game than giving this speech here today."
Alomar thanked, among others, fellow Hall of Fame inductee Pat Gillick, for his role in bringing Alomar to Toronto, a move that helped the Blue Jays win consecutive World Series in the 1990s; all his teammates and coaches, for making him both a better player and better person; and Tony Gwynn, for the gift of a pair of shoes in Alomar's rookie season with the San Diego Padres.
"I still have those shoes at home," Alomar said.
Alomar's speech concluded with tributes to his brother and mother, just the final and most important building blocks of his remarkable career.