Good Evening
Good Evening

Alomar shocked, disappointed by HOF snub

Roberto Alomar, center, along with his wife, Maria,

Roberto Alomar, center, along with his wife, Maria, and son, Roberto Jr., react to the news that he narrowly missed election to the Baseball Hall of Fame. (January 6, 2010) Credit: Charles Eckert

Even as time ticked down to impossible, as common sense should have set in at his palatial Queens home, the party kept going for Roberto Alomar early Wednesday afternoon.

Tension loomed, sure, but so did laughter. Like when Ray Negron, Alomar's longtime friend and a Yankees adviser, simulated a "passing gas" noise and pinned the blame on his pal, Aris Sakellaridis.

"That must be the spicy food," Alomar said, laughing.

It was 1:50, and Alomar should've heard by then that he had gained induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame on his first try. He hadn't, but there had to be an explanation.

Ten minutes later, Alomar learned of his fate the same way that most people did - by watching the announcement on the MLB Network.

"I was shocked. It was shocking,'' Alomar told Newsday, after learning of his near-miss for induction. "Everyone's saying, 'You should be in there,' and you're not there. You have to know how to take the good and the bad.''

Here is a look at how the mood in the Alomar house transformed from festive to stunned.

12:30. Alomar is smiling as he strolls through his house, yet he admits, "I'm nervous." He woke up at 6 in the morning, he said, after about three hours' sleep.

He's excited not only for himself, but for his native land of Puerto Rico, which has been in the throes of a recession lately. The governor of Puerto Rico, Luis Fortuno, has been in touch.

His wife, Maria Del Pilar Alomar, and 8-year-old son, Roberto Jr., emerge, and prepare for the big moment. An MLB Network crew is setting up its equipment so that it can record "the phone call" from Baseball Writers Association of America secretary/treasurer Jack O'Connell.

1:00. Negron, who used to baby-sit Roberto when Sandy Alomar Sr. played for the Yankees (and Negron worked for the team as a batboy), sits to the family's right and holds Alomar's cell phone in his left hand and his own cell phone in his right. The good news will come on Alomar's phone. If it's bad news, Negron is hoping to get a heads-up call on his phone.

1:08. Negron's phone rings. It's Roberto Clemente, Jr. checking to see if his friend has heard anything. "Nothing yet," Negron says.

1:10. Negron's phone rings. It's Mets general manager Omar Minaya, calling for the second time in an hour. Still no news, he's told, and Minaya says, "I will not call again. I promise you that."

As Roberto Jr. fidgets, the elder Alomar plays with him: "Robbie, Robbie, how you doing, Robbie? Good?" Roberto Jr. smiles.

1:20. Jaime Torres, Alomar's agent, sends a text to Alomar, asking if there's any news.

1:49. Miguel Montas, the owner of El Nuevo Caridad, a Manhattan restaurant popular among Latino players, is calling. Alomar and his family will go there for an induction party.

1:53. Former pitcher Luis Tiant calls, looking for information. No news, still, and it's only about now, really, that concern starts to fill the room.

2:00. The news breaks. Alomar keeps a frozen smile, betraying only a hint of surprise. His young son isn't as good an actor. He starts to cry. So does Negron.

In an uncomfortable turn of events, the MLB Network now has no reason to be on site. The crew tears down its set and equipment. There will be no Manhattan party.

Alomar takes off his unused microphone and heads toward the kitchen, where his family and friends offer him applause. He smiles, thanks everyone and then conducts interviews.

"I'm surprised," he said, repeating himself: "I'm surprised. I'm real, real, real surprised."

He hangs around for awhile and thanks everyone for coming. He is sad, he says, about not being able to use the induction to help his homeland.

"I think Puerto Rico, they know I'm a Hall of Famer," Alomar says. "I'm going to be there one day. We didn't get to celebrate, but maybe we'll get to celebrate next year."

For now, though, it's back to his life as a retired ballplayer. One recognized by most as an all-time great. But not recognized by quite enough, yet, to change his life.

New York Sports