Wednesday, May 8, 2013

1993 TOPPS FINEST: #26 SANDY ALOMAR


PROTOTYPICAL CEREBRAL CATCHER.




ENTERED THE LEAGUE WITH HIGH EXPECTATIONS.


DEFINING THE PLAYER

  • Sandy Alomar Jr. put together a fine 20-year career worthy of six All-Star Game appearances despite being a bit overshadowed by Hall of Fame younger brother #88 Roberto Alomar. Sandy made his bones by being a terrific defensive catcher, but various injuries kept him from playing more than 132 games in any season. He's a manager-in-waiting after being promoted to bench coach for the Indians in 2012 and looked to be in line to succeed the fired Manny Acta after the season. But Cleveland hired Terry Francona with Alomar remaining bench coach and gaining more managerial insight from a two-time World Series champion.

DEFINING MOMENT

  • In the '97 All-Star Game at home in Cleveland on July 8, Alomar came to bat in the bottom of the seventh in a 1-all game. Facing Shawn Estes, he hit a two-run homer that gave the AL a 3-1 victory. Alomar became the first player to homer in an All-Star Game in their home park since Hank Aaron in 1972.

DEFINING SEASON

  • The All-Star MVP performance was only one of many highlights from his '97 season, when he set career-highs in average (.324), home runs (21) and RBI (83). He also had a 30-game hitting streak, falling four short of #138 Benito Santiago's record for catchers.

FIVE FINAL FACTS

  1. The '90 AL Rookie of the Year was the first rookie catcher to start an All-Star Game. 
  2. Baseball America's Minor League Player of the Year in '88 and '89 in the Padres' organization, Alomar's path to the majors was blocked by Santiago.
  3. As such, Alomar was traded to the Indians in '89, along with #57 Carlos Baerga and Chris James, for #94 Joe Carter, one of several shrewd moves by the up-and-coming Tribe.
  4. In the '97 Division Series Game 4 against the defending World Series champion Yankees, Alomar slugged a game-tying homer off Mariano Rivera in the eighth. The Indians scored the winner in the bottom of the ninth before disposing of the Yankees in Game 5.
  5. Father Sandy Alomar Sr., an infielder, played 15 years in the bigs.

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