During the 1993 World Series, Alomar took Steven Boggs, the 11-year-old son of his marketing agent, John Boggs, in a limousine to lunch. As they ate at a Chinese restaurant in Toronto, a line of autograph seekers soon formed at their table. Alomar asked the waiter for privacy so Steven's special lunch would not be ruined, and screens were set up around the table.
Alomar does love to go out, though; it's just that the places he frequents are as low profile as he is. When he plays golf, he plays miniature golf. "And he cheats," says John Boggs, a frequent opponent.
"I have my own scoring system," says Alomar.
"He cheats at everything—dominoes, Ping-Pong, backgammon," says Sandy Sr. "Winning is everything to him."
That's true even in winter league baseball, which for most Latin major leaguers is an easy way to stay in shape and perform for their fans in Puerto Rico. When San Juan played Caguas on Dec. 20, it was a typical night in the Puerto Rican league. The big leaguers congregated around the batting cage before the game would have made a formidable All-Star lineup: Baerga, Martinez, outfielder Bobby Bonilla of the Orioles, catcher Ivan Rodriguez of the Rangers, shortstop Rey Sanchez of the Chicago Cubs and, the best of them all, Robby Alomar. San Juan won the game 10-7, behind Alomar's two doubles and three-run homer. He also made a signature defensive play, backhanding a ball behind second, leaping and making a perfect throw to first. He plays all out in the winter, just as he does in the summer. "I was put on this earth to play baseball," he says.
There was never a doubt that Alomar would be a major leaguer. "A scout with the Cardinals saw him play pepper when he was six years old, and he said to me, 'I want to sign your son right now,' " says Sandy Sr. "He was determined to be a player. He always told me, 'I'm going to be better than you.' That wouldn't take much."
Sandy Jr., who is nearly two years older than Robby, signed with the Padres in October 1983. When San Diego reached the '84 World Series against the Detroit Tigers, Robby taped the Series and watched it over and over again. "He'd tell me, 'I'm going to play in that ballpark [ Jack Murphy Stadium] someday,' " says Sandy Sr. Robby signed with the Padres the following February.
In his first spring training Alomar immediately impressed the Padres' All-Star right-fielder Tony Gwynn when he hauled a bag of balls to a back diamond and hit off a tee for an hour—a commitment to hard work that has not diminished over the past 11 years. In 1988, at 20, Alomar was the starting second baseman for the Padres. Two years later he was an All-Star, but in a December 1990 blockbuster, he was traded with outfielder Joe Carter to Toronto for first baseman Fred McGriff and shortstop Tony Fernandez. Alomar was the least celebrated player of the four, but on the day of the trade Montreal Expos manager Buck Rodgers said unequivocally that Alomar was the best player in the deal. Chicago Cubs scout Hugh Alexander said Alomar someday would be better than Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg, and he predicted Alomar would eventually make more money than anyone in baseball. He could turn out to be right on both counts.
In five seasons in Toronto, Alomar hit a combined .307 and won five Gold Gloves to go with his two World Series rings. With Toronto rebuilding after back-to-back losing seasons, Alomar, this year's prize free agent, jumped to Baltimore, where he will play alongside Ripken, one of his idols. Alomar's other heroes are his father and Joe Morgan, the Hall of Fame second baseman. Alomar had Morgan sign one of his Gold Gloves, and he had former Kansas City Royals second baseman Frank White sign another one because White "never missed a ball."
But neither Morgan nor White could make the amazing defensive plays Alomar does. He has as much range as any infielder in baseball, and he might have the best infield arm in the majors, though he rarely has to cut loose from second base. "Ask [Blue Jays first baseman] John Olerud about my arm," Alomar says. "I almost killed him with a throw."