Baseball Hall Of Fame Inductions 2011: Blyleven, Alomar, Gillick Enshrined

Time and television information for the 2011 Baseball Hall of Fame Induction ceremony, where Bert Blyleven, Roberto Alomar and Pat Gillick will be enshrined in Cooperstown.

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Baseball Hall Of Fame Inductions 2011: Bert Blyleven's Speech Filled With Stories, Humor

The best of the three speeches from the class of 2011's Hall of Fame induction ceremony came from the player who waited the longest to hear the Hall's call: Bert Blyleven's funny speech had the Hall of Fame induction crowd laughing throughout.

Blyleven's video tribute was delivered by Jim Kaat, who talked about Blyleven's wicked curveball and skill at pulling pranks such as hotfooting his teammates.

Blyleven's speech was the day's liveliest: "First of all, you are all hereby circled," he began, referencing the "Circle me, Bert" signs that fans have brought to Minnesota Twins games, hoping that color commentator Blyleven would show them a little love with the telestrator. He also dropped an "Are we live?" to reference his infamous and accidental expletives during a live broadcast in 2006.

But the heart of Blyleven's speech were stories about him being called up to the big leagues. After being asked by his manager to greet all of his teammates, Blyleven explained, he spent a night trying to catch up with all of them before returning to report on his findings, and complaining that, by 3 a.m., "They weren't in yet!" And Blyleven explained that in his first game, after giving up a home run to his first major league batter, his manager, Bill Rigney, consoled him with sage advice: "That's not the last home run you're going to give up."

"I've been very fortunate in my life to play a kids' game for 22 seasons," Blyleven said, expressing his appreciation to the Twins for keeping him around "the game I love." "I am very thankful for this honor," he finished, bringing things full circle appropriately: "And you are all, hereby, circled."


Baseball Hall Of Fame Inductions 2011: Roberto Alomar Gives Bilingual Speech, Thanks Toronto

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.


Baseball Hall Of Fame Inductions 2011: Pat Gillick Enshrined, Gives Humble Speech

The 2011 Baseball Hall of Fame class includes both the architect of the Toronto Blue Jays that won World Series titles in the 1990s and one of the cornerstones of that team. But the architect, general manager Pat Gillick, got to be inducted first at Cooperstown.

Gillick got the customary pre-speech video tribute from former Atlanta Braves general manager John Scheurholz. Praising Gillick as a "smart man" and a "good forward-thinker," Scheurholz also lauded Gillick's use of the Rule V Draft and clever work in building his teams in Toronto, Baltimore, Seattle, and Philadelphia, saying, "He did his job well and he did it right." (Gillick, in his speech, joked, "John narrated it just as I wrote it.")

Gillick's speech traced his career in baseball from his time as a Caribbean scout to tenures as the general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, and Philadelphia Phillies. Naming and thanking dozens of clubhouse personnel as well as his front office co-workers, Gillick made his speech a humble one, one mostly about the places he has been and the life he has had because of baseball.

Quoting late Mariners announcer and Hall of Famer Dave Niehaus, Gillick told the crowd, "I may not be the most deserving, but I am the most appreciative."


Baseball Hall Of Fame Inductions 2011: Time And TV Schedule

After missing out on making the Baseball Hall of Fame by a small handful of votes in 2010, both Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar have been elected to the Hall in 2011, where they will be enshrined along with Pat Gillick. For the third straight year, the MLB Network will have coverage of the induction ceremony, and will provide a live stream for Internet-only viewers.

Blyleven has finally made the hall of fame in his 14th appearance on the ballot, while Alomar has been elected after just his second year on the ballot. There was never any doubt that Alomar would get to Cooperstown some day, but it seemed last season that a number of writers were reluctant to give him the honor of being a first ballot Hall of Famer.

The induction ceremony starts at 12:30 P.M. ET on the MLB Network, and will be preceded by an MLB Tonight preview show. 

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