Made available in a conference call that ended a few minutes ago, former Orioles second baseman Roberto Alomar told reporters he was surprised that he received 90 percent of the votes this year after getting 73.7 percent last winter.
"I didn't expect to get so many votes," he said. "I know last year was a little bit disappointing, but on the other hand, I feel happy with what happened this year and I'm real excited. It's a real exciting moment for me.
"It's something that's out of my hands. Last year was so close that I expected this year to be able to make it, but I didn't think I'd get that many votes."
Alomar isn't sure whether the infamous "spitting incident" with umpire John Hirschbeck on Sept. 27, 1996 delayed his induction for a year, but he hopes that fans have finally put it behind them.
Is today's news the final exoneration for Alomar?
"I hope so," he replied. "I've told people many times that we, as human beings, we let our temper take over sometimes in a game. That's one of the moments I had and I regret every bit of it. But at the same time, I apologized many times to John, John apologized to me and we both moved on. I feel good that I have a good relationship with John, and he forgave me and his family forgave me and we both moved on. I hope people move on."
It's nice timing that Alomar will enter the Hall of Fame with general manager Pat Gillick, who orchestrated the trade that brought the second baseman to Toronto and led to two World Series titles in the early 90s.
"It is an honor," Alomar said. "Pat Gillick has been part of my life for many years. I first saw him when I was 16 years old. He tried to sign me with the Blue Jays at the time, but I decided to sign with San Diego. Then he got a chance to trade for me in Toronto and gave me an opportunity to play good for the Blue Jays.
"Pat's been a mentor to me. It will be an honor to go in at the same time that he's going in."
Alomar grew uncomfortable with a question pertaining to the omissions of Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro. He chose to tread lightly around the subject of steroids.
"It's a subject I don't really want to talk about," he said. "I saw players like Raffy and Mark McGwire and they were excellent ballplayers, and I think they have the numbers to get into the Hall of Fame. I hope someday they make it, but it is what it is."
Quick Alfredo Simon update: Lawyers for Orioles reliever Alfredo Simon continue to wait for the final ballistics report that will determine whether the bullet that killed a 25-year-old man on New Year's Eve came from the gun that Simon turned over to Dominican law enforcement authorities Monday.
Simon's lawyers are appealing a judge's ruling that the pitcher could be detained for up to one year. They will argue that Simon isn't a flight risk.