I’ve been watching the Orioles since 1982. That’s the first year that I can really remember. So many players have come and gone since then. I got to watch Cal Ripken Jr. from the beginning of his career to the end. I got to watch Eddie Murray in his prime. Neither was as exciting to watch as the great Robbie Alomar.
I hated Alomar when he played for the Blue Jays. He found a way to beat the Orioles every single time. I hated him because he was so good.
All of that changed in 1996, when Alomar became an Oriole. Robbie put together two great seasons, and he helped lead the Orioles to back-to-back American League Championship Series. Night after night, he made a great defensive play, laid down a bunt, stole a base or hit a homer. He was not only the greatest Oriole I’ve ever watched, but the greatest all around player I’ve ever seen.
In 1996, I attended the Orioles’ spring training in Ft. Lauderdale. Not that anyone cares but I had a number of humorous encounters with Alomar that spring. I was still just a fan, and was not yet working for Nestor.
First, I was sitting at a red light, and I looked to my left and there was Alomar in his convertible Mercedes Benz next to me. I gave him a wave, he waved back, and off we went in separate directions. The next time I saw him was in the hotel elevator where I got him to sign a ball for me. I still have it.
Throughout the week, I ran into Robbie in the hotel lobby a number of times, and he always said hi. Later in the week, I was at the Baja Beach Club in Ft. Lauderdale. The place probably held 3,000 people. I look to my left, and guess who’s standing there? Yep, Robbie Alomar. I said to him, “I swear to God, I’m not stalking you!” He started laughing, and we talked for a while. I got a picture with him, which I still have. I guess the point is that Robbie seemed like a good dude.
Obviously, he spit in an umpire’s face. That’s not cool. Since then, Alomar and that umpire, John Hirshbeck, have made up and settled things.
My reaction, when I got the text from our own Bob Haynie this morning that Alomar’s ex-girlfriend filed suit alleging that Alomar has full-blown AIDS and had unprotected sex with her, was not of shock, but of sadness.
As a fan of Alomar’s, I am hoping that the allegations in the suit are all garbage. In the meantime, it’s just another sad story with an uncertain ending.