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Alomar, Blyleven and Gillick enter Baseball HOF
Still, his path toward the Hall was a slow, steep one _ he drew the backing of only 14.1 percent one year _ but on his 14th try became the first pure starting pitcher to get selected by the BBWAA since Nolan Ryan in 1999.
Blyleven’s father, Joe, who died of Parkinson’s in 2004, fell in love with baseball and the Dodgers after the family moved to Southern California in the late 1950s and built a mound in the backyard, the genesis of his son’s Hall of Fame career.
“I wish he was here,” said Blyleven, who in the past had regretted not being selected for the Hall while his father was still alive. “But you know, mom, I know he’s up there looking down right now. Mommy, I love you.”
Baseball has lost several giants of the game in recent years, and Blyleven remembered the ones that helped him along the way.
“I know in my heart that Harmon Killebrew, Willie Stargell, Bob Feller, Chuck Tanner and Kirby Puckett are looking down at all of us right now,” Blyleven said, adding a special thought for Hall of Famer Gary Carter, who’s battling brain cancer. “Gary, keep battling the way that you always have.”
Gillick, a left-handed pitcher in college, said he knew he had to find another way to stay in the game after five years in the minor leagues. He found it in the front offices of four major league teams, winning 1992 and 1993 titles with Toronto and a 2008 title with Philadelphia.
Gillick’s teams posted winning records in 20 of his 27 seasons as a general manager and advanced to the postseason 11 times.
“It was pretty clear my arm wasn’t going to get me to the majors,” Gillick said. “Then I guess luck took over.”
Gillick began his front-office career in 1963 as assistant farm director with the Houston Astros, moved to the New York Yankees system in 1974 as coordinator of player development, and in 1976 moved to the expansion Blue Jays, becoming vice president of player personnel and later vice president of baseball operations.
Three awards were given at a special ceremony on Saturday at Doubleday Field: Dave Van Horne, longtime play-by-play man for the Montreal Expos and Florida Marlins, received the Ford C. Frick Award for his contributions in broadcasting; Philadelphia sports writer and columnist Bill Conlin was given the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for meritorious service in print baseball coverage; and Roland Hemond received the Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award.
Follow John Kekis on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/Greek1947
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