* Robbie Alomar signed 100s of autographs at Home Run Sports in Mississauga Tuesday as he introduced his new equipment line "alomar baseball" of Canadian-made ash and maple bats, as well as orange gloves the kind he used to wear when he arrived with the Blue Jays in the 1990s. ....
By Bob Elliott
Robbie Alomar introduced his line at Scott Neiles’ Home Run Sports Tuesday in Mississauga.
Not the line of autograph seekers wearing Alomar No. 12 jerseys winding its way through the store for the 12:12 start.
The Hall of Famer unveiled a new line of equipment: alomar baseball.
The logo begins with a lower case ‘a’ all the better to see Alomar’s arms raise out of the letter ‘o’ -- two fingers on his left hand raised, one on his right -- as they did when he homered off Dennis Eckersley in Game 4 of the 1992 American League Championship Series in Oakland.
The Alomar line consists of Canadian-made ash and maple bats in the $100 price range and orange fielder’s gloves in the $200 neighbourhood -- of which $5 goes to the Jays Care Foundation.
“This is a new venture, I took pride in my game when I played,” said Alomar. “I’m going to take the same mentality I had playing into this.”
So, business partner Morgan Matthews had best not be turning out any warped bats.
After Alomar decided to enter the competitive world of equipment sales, Ross Johnson, formerly of Cooper equipment, put Alomar in touch with Matthews who works for Impact Machine. Now, 18 months later stock is on the shelves in Mississauga and shipped to other Home Run Sports stores in Winnipeg, Calgary, Okotoks and London.
After working product development for 10 years to his days at Mission Itech, Matthews designed the gloves with Alomar’s input.
“This glove is a lot like the Cooper glove I used to use,” Alomar said as he signed bats, balls and pictures. “My glove was 11 inches, this one is 12. It’s not the glove we’d give to the little guys at the Blue Jays camps. It’s high-end.”
Alomar said he’ll pay for testing and insurance to gain status as a Major League Baseball-approved bat manufacturer, saying he’s “going to do it the right way.”
Samples of the alomar baseball model bats were sent to Blue Jays minor leaguers to use during batting practice. Alomar said Mississauga’s Dalton Pompey, Peterborough’s Mike Reeves and Justin Atkinson of Surrey, B.C. all were happy using the new weapons.
“When you are in the industry like I am, you always look to see what bat a guy is using by looking at the logo,” said Neiles. “This is a distinctive logo which will be recognizable on TV.
“At the Baseball Canada meetings in Halifax, I’m not sure if all kids knew who Robbie Alomar was, but all the parents knew. Everyone lined up for pictures.”
Such was the case Tuesday. Like C.J. Maury, 12, from Brampton. Maury wore a plain blue Jays jersey. Eight strips of tape were across the back and seven were applied in a downward direction.
“Hockey tape,” said Maury, of the Brampton Royals minor peewees, who had used a black magic marker to write the name Alomar and the number 12.
North York’s Richard Ochshorn walked behind the curtain to tell the second baseman he had bought a signed Alomar bat years ago at an auction because he was sure Alomar would be the first Jays player elected to Cooperstown. And son Spencer, who plays second base and wears No. 12, smiled as he had his picture taken with the Hall of Famer.
Mississauga’s Julian Parson had his picture taken with Alomar and before that received catching tips from Chris Robinson of Dorchester, Ont. who homered for his first hit in the majors with the San Diego Padres in September.
Robinson brought Centre Field Sports fellow instructors from London in Jamie Romak, Brock Kjeldgaard, Jeff Helps and Adam Arnold. And Robinson also showed Adam Stern the bright lights of Mississauga.
Francis Moccio sat beside Alomar and unfurled a “You Should be Here” banner to send to his partner Joseph Paonessa. Moccio and Paonessa developed the Baseball Mania game in the early 1990s.
Alomar signed a huge picture of himself and Juan Guzman riding in a World Series parade, a blow-up World Series ticket stub, held a baby so parents could take pictures and was shown a letter.
“This guy wrote me when he was a kid, but never mailed it,” Alomar said. “Before he got married his fiance asked me to send them congratulations and wish them luck. I did that.
“So, today he came and showed me the letter, saying I was his idol, how he wanted to grow up to be like me.”
The coast-to-coast adulation for Alomar, the first Blue Jay to make Cooperstown and a Toronto resident now, continues to grow ... from grandpa, to son, to youngsters.
Now Alomar tries to make a hit at the cash register.