"It's been 14 years of praying and waiting, and I thank the baseball writers of America for, I'm going to say, finally getting it right," said Blyleven, who was elected in his second-to-last year on the ballot.
"As far as how I feel right now, I've got goosebumps."
Added Alomar later: "I feel real honored to be a part of the Hall of Fame, to be part of the elite ballplayers to ever play the game.
"It was real surprising. I didn't expect to get so many votes. I know last year was a little bit disappointing, but the on the other hand I feel real happy with what happened this year. I'm excited. This is a real exciting moment for me," he said.
"Last year I got so close, I expected that this year I (would) at least be able to make it, but I didn't think that I was going to get that many votes."
Hickey: Finally for Blyleven, Alomar | Snubs: Bagwell | Palmeiro
Just how many votes did the pair get? Alomar finished with 523 votes out of a possible 581 (90 percent), while Blyleven got 463 votes (79.7 percent). Candidates must finish with at least 75 percent support from the electorate to gain induction into the Hall of Fame.
Beyond the stage they will share this July and their near miss in 2010, the pair have little in common both in terms of their playing careers and their path to enshrinement in Cooperstown.
Alomar, in just his second year of eligibility, was known for his all-around game at second base. He was a lifetime .300 hitter who finished his career with 2,724 hits, 210 home runs, 1,134 RBI and 474 stolen bases. He was named to 12 straight All-Star Games from 1991-2001 and he also won 10 Gold Gloves.
"I have different proudest moments of my career -- my first hit against Nolan Ryan ... the home run against (Dennis) Eckersley in the (1992) American League Championship Series and winning the two World Series," said Alomar. "Winning, this is what baseball is all about, and I think those moments are the biggest."
There's little doubt about his lowest moment. In September 1996, Alomar was ejected from a game by umpire John Hirschbeck for arguing a called third strike. He responded by spitting in Hirschbeck's face -- an act for which he was universally condemned and which many believe delayed his election to the Hall of Fame by a year.
Alomar and Hirschbeck have since put their differences behind them and become friends, with the pair later joining forces to raise money for research on Schilder's disease, a rare disorder that effected two of the umpire's sons.
"We let the temper sometimes take over the game, and that was one of the moments that I had and I regret every bit of it," said Alomar. "But at the same time, I apologized many times to John and John apologized to me and we both moved on. ... I feel good that I have a good relationship with John."
Blyleven, unlike Alomar, had to wait awhile, appearing on the ballot for the 14th time this winter. He steadily gained momentum throughout the course of his candidacy thanks in large part to a groundswell of organic support from the Internet, particularly in the sabermetric community.
"It's 2011, maybe the writers just decided 'hey that'd be a good year for him to go in.'" said Blyleven Wednesday. "It's been frustrating over the years."
The right-handed pitcher won 287 games and ranks fifth all-time in strikeouts with 3,701 in his career. Blyleven's 60 career shutouts are the ninth-most ever, and yet he remained the only pitcher with 50 or more shutouts to not be a member of the Hall of Fame before Wednesday.
His 250 career losses and the fact that he rarely played for winning teams or in big markets -- Blyleven played for the Twins, Rangers, Pirates, Indians and Angels -- dragged his case down with many voters, particularly at the beginning. He received just 17.55 percent of the vote in 1998, his first year on the ballot, but those totals rose fairly steadily from that point on, and Blyleven was careful to give much of the credit for that increase to the loyal supporters who championed his cause, particularly Rich Lederer of BaseballAnalysts.com.
"I think there's been a lot of people in my corner, especially Rich," Blyleven said. "He's one guy that has really brought out so many different stats (other) than just wins and losses.
"You can't control as a pitcher, sometimes, wins. You can't control losses. But what you can control is the innings you pitch, if you keep your club in the game, all those things, and I think they're brought out a lot today more than they were, say, 10 years ago."
Blyleven expounded on that when talking about the day-in, day-out effort he tried to bring to the ballpark over the course of his career.
Said Blyleven: "Hopefully the writers will one day not just look at the wins and losses. You know there's so much more that goes into it -- the 1-0 losses, the 1-0 wins or the 2-1 ballgames, all the no decisions. ... So much goes into it, but it's the consistency that's important in so much of what you do in life, and I think for 22 years in a major league uniform I was very consistent."
He and Alomar will be joined in July by longtime executive Pat Gillick, who was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in December. Ford C. Frick Award-winning announcer Dave Van Horne and J.G. Taylor Spink Award-winning writer Bill Conlin round out to the class of 2011.
As always with the Hall of Fame elections, who did not get in this year is as much a part of the story as who did. With 361 votes (62.1 percent), longtime Reds shortstop Barry Larkin finished the closest to election without getting in. It was his second year on the ballot, and his 10.5 percent spike in support from 2010 to 2011 hints at election in the near future. Pitcher Jack Morris saw his support rise by 1.2 percent, and with 311 total votes (53.5 percent), he was the only other player up for election to receive support from more than half of the electorate.
Steroid Era candidates are beginning to dominate the voting narrative, though. Mark McGwire, in his fifth year on the ballot, saw his support tumble by 3.9 percent after admitting last January that he took performance-enhancing drugs during his career. Rafael Palmeiro, the first major candidate to fail a drug test (which he did in 2005), appeared on the ballot for the first time and received just 64 votes (11 percent) despite being a member of the 500-home run and 3,000-hit club. Generally speaking, crossing either one of those thresholds guarantees enshrinement in Cooperstown.
Perhaps most interesting of all is Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell. Like Palmeiro he appeared on the ballot for the first time this year, but unlike him or McGwire, Bagwell has never been concretely connected to PEDs. Despite that, many voters, including one of our own at FanHouse, opted to wait and see on the slugger. He received 41.7 percent of the vote this year -- significantly more than McGwire ever has, but still a long way off from election.
Bagwell, McGwire and Palmeiro will all get another look next year having maintained the 5 percent support necessary to stay on the ballot. They'll be joined as holdovers by Larkin, Morris, closer Lee Smith, outfielder Tim Raines, DH Edgar Martinez, shortstop Alan Trammell, outfielder Larry Walker, first baseman Fred McGriff, first baseman Don Mattingly, outfielder Dale Murphy and slugger Juan Gonzalez.
Falling off the ballot are Dave Parker, because his 15 years are up, and a host of others -- Harold Baines, John Franco, Kevin Brown, Tino Martinez, Marquis Grissom, Al Leiter, John Olerud, B.J. Surhoff, Bret Boone, Benito Santiago, Carlos Baerga, Lenny Harris, Kirk Reuter, Bobby Higginson, Charles Johnson and Raul Mondesi -- because they did not receive the necessary five percent of support.
FanHouse TV's Steve Phillips breaks down what the 2011 Hall of Fame election results mean for those who earned their place in Cooperstown and those who did not.