Roberto Alomar took a day off Sunday, closing the season with a .328 average that matches the best mark in the history of the Baltimore Orioles.
Standing a few feet from where Alomar would have been in the field was second base umpire John Hirschbeck, who returned to work after a troubling off day.
Alomar’s last hit of the season was a home run Saturday that gave the Orioles a 3-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays and boosted Baltimore into the playoffs for the first time since 1983.
Baseball fans, and Orioles fans in particular, may one day look back at that day and remember the second baseman’s clutch homer and the wild clubhouse celebration that followed n the visitors’ clubhouse at SkyDome.
Alomar can only hope they don’t first think about the nasty incident that preceded the game.
Saturday began with Alomar receiving a five-day suspension from the American League for spitting at Hirschbeck, who ejected the player for arguing a third-strike call. Alomar appealed the suspension and got to play.
Hirschbeck, meanwhile, did not participate in the game after charging into the Baltimore clubhouse upon learning that Alomar suggested the umpire has been “bitter” since Hirschbeck’s young boy died three years earlier.
Hirschbeck was back Sunday, though, even though crew chief Jim McKean had said Hirschbeck was through for the season.
McKean said Alomar’s absence did not play in the decision.
“We want to get back to work. The incident is over,” he said.