I’ve been a Blue Jays season subscriber, along with a small syndicate of others, sharing a pair of tickets since the team’s founding in 1977. Of all the players through all the years whose professional career has included Toronto, my all-time favourite is Roberto Alomar. At second base he had no equal. His range and ability to get to a ball hit anywhere near him was astounding. A lifetime .300 hitter, he was an All-Star for a dozen years, and a driving force when the Jays twice won the World Series.
So I was saddened by the news that he had been found guilty after allegations recently made by one individual of sexual misconduct in 2014. Following an investigation by Major League Baseball (MLB) he was placed on the league’s “ineligible” list which means he’s eternally damned. Alomar lost his MLB consulting contract and the Blue Jays piled on by removing his Level of Excellence designation at the Rogers Centre as well as his Hall of Fame banner. By the sounds of Alomar’s comments he has not been allowed to fully defend himself before MLB. He was quoted as saying that he hoped “this allegation can be heard in a venue that will allow me to address the accusation directly.”
Treatment by the Baseball Hall of Fame was more sanguine. Alomar’s plaque will continue to hang at the museum in Cooperstown, N.Y. The Hall of Fame takes the view that its mandate is to preserve and honour history based on the code of times past, what the world looked like when that particular player was active. Changing social mores or other recent considerations simply don’t apply.
Differing views have come to impact our opinion of other more historic figures. Sir John A. MacDonald, Canada’s founding father, has recently been found wanting because residential schools were said to be his idea. There’s no question they turned out to be hellholes for Indigenous young people but I would argue that terrible outcome was not Macdonald’s fault. However, the opposite view has come to prevail. Macdonald’s name is being scrubbed off buildings; his statues are being carted away.
I have a bust of Sir John sitting on a corner of my office desk. He’s been supervising my work for years and will carry on doing so. Alomar may not have similar commemoration in my space, but his playing career will also continue to be honoured by me. They both will always have a revered place in my heart and in my head.