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Bert Blyleven

Blyleven in 2008
Pitcher
Born: April 6, 1951 (1951-04-06) (age 58)
Zeist, Netherlands
Batted: Right Threw: Right 
MLB debut
June 5, 1970 for the Minnesota Twins
Last MLB appearance
October 4, 1992 for the California Angels
Career statistics
Win-Loss record     287-250
Earned run average     3.31
Strikeouts     3,701
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Rik Aalbert "Bert" Blyleven (born April 6, 1951 in Zeist, Netherlands) is a former Major League Baseball pitcher who played from 1970 to 1992, and was best known for his outstanding curveball. He currently resides in Ft. Myers, Florida.

Contents

Baseball career

Blyleven, who was born in the Netherlands, but raised in Garden Grove, California, became interested in baseball as a young boy watching Sandy Koufax pitch for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Bert starred on the Santiago High School baseball team, also running cross country to build up his stamina and leg strength. He was drafted straight out of high school by the Minnesota Twins in the third round in 1969, where after only 21 minor league starts he found himself called up to the Majors at age 19, June 2, 1970. In his first season, his sharp curveball helped him to ten victories and he was named AL Rookie Pitcher of the Year by The Sporting News.

However, Blyleven's early career with the Twins was not always pleasant as he was hounded by critics and fans. Becoming more vocal, Blyleven was traded to the Texas Rangers on June 1, 1976. He pitched well with the Rangers, having a 2.76 ERA in his first season and throwing a no-hitter against the California Angels on September 22, 1977, just two weeks after being sidelined with a groin injury. His 2.74 career ERA with the Rangers remains the best in team history.

Then, following an incident in which Blyleven blatantly gave the finger to a television camera obviously focused on him during one of the Rangers' rare nationally-broadcast games, Blyleven was again traded on December 8, 1977 to the Pittsburgh Pirates as part of the first four-team trade in Major League Baseball history. With the Pirates, he led the team in ERA, strikeouts and complete games in 1978 and helped them to a World Series victory in 1979.

However, Blyleven became disgruntled with the Pirates and threatened to retire during the 1980 season if he was not traded. Eventually, the Pirates did trade him to the Cleveland Indians on December 9, 1980. Blyleven sat out most of the 1982 season with an elbow injury and struggled again in 1983, but came back in 1984 with one of his best seasons: a 19-7 record with a 2.87 ERA. He missed a second 20-win season that year when he was forced to miss a couple of starts after breaking his foot when joking around in the bullpen. Blyleven was unhappy playing for the lackluster Indians and forced a trade back to the Twins, where he passed the 3,000-strikeout mark and helped the Twins to a 1987 World Series victory.

Blyleven's first two full seasons back with the Twins also produced major league records for home runs allowed in a single season (50) and in back-to-back seasons (96). He never surrendered more than 24 home runs in any year before and after the 1986-87 campaigns, averaging 21 allowed per season over the course of his career.

Blyleven went to the California Angels in 1989 and pitched a 2.73 ERA for a 17-5 record in his first season, but he missed the entire 1991 season following rotator cuff surgery. He came back in 1992, but was mostly unproductive, going 8-12 with a 4.74 ERA. He retired following that season with a career 287-250 record with 3,701 strikeouts (only 16 other pitchers have at least 3,000 career strikeouts) and a 3.31 ERA. He tried out for the Twins again in the spring of 1993, but did not make the squad, making his retirement official.

MLB Hall of Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson stated "It (his curveball) was nasty, I'll tell you that. Enough to make your knees buckle. Bert was a terrific pitcher — a dominating pitcher."[1]

Blyleven is often considered to be the best eligible pitcher not yet in the Baseball Hall of Fame; his first year of eligibility was 1998 and if not elected by the 2012 ballot, he will lose eligibility for election through the writers' vote. If that happens, he can still enter the Hall of Fame through the Veterans Committee. He currently ranks 5th all-time in Strikeouts, 9th all-time in Shutouts, and 27th all-time in Wins. He is the only retired member of the 3000 strikeout club not in the Hall of Fame. Though he received only 17.55% of the vote for Hall of Fame admission in 1998 (first year of eligibility), by 2006 this total had increased to 53.33%. In 2007, Blyleven's total dipped to 47.7% (75% is the minimum required for admission to the Hall). In 2008, he received 336 votes, or 61.9% of the vote.[2] In 2009, he gained only two votes, for a total of 338, 62.7%. In 2010, Blyleven had 74.2% of the votes, missing admission to the Hall of Fame by only 5 votes (0.8%).[3] Because of his long association with the club, it is believed that if elected to the Hall, Blyleven would enter as a Minnesota Twin.

Blyleven was a pitching coach for the Netherlands in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.[4]

Blyleven was chosen to the "Wendy's- Minnesota Twins All-Metrodome Team" as selected by the fans on July 28th, 2009.

Commentating career

In 1996, Blyleven became a color commentator for the Twins. Blyleven's commentary is frequently risqué for a baseball broadcast, but provides interesting and friendly conversation between him and play-by-play announcer Dick Bremer.

Off-color comments

Blyleven has been known to make off-color remarks during some Twins television broadcasts. Play-by-play announcer Dick Bremer frequently responds to these comments with silence or with an attempt to change the subject.

  • During a 2006 broadcast, the topic of conversation with a guest shifted from George Brett to singing in the shower. Blyleven mentioned that he had showered with Brett, and the guest expressed surprise. Blyleven exclaimed "Well, there were other guys there! ... although they did say not to bend over."[5]
  • During the pregame show on September 3, 2006 which was broadcast on WFTC (Channel 29), Blyleven twice used the word "fuck" while he was live on air after getting caught up in his words during commentary. Blyleven stopped his commentary and muttered "We're gonna do this fuckin' thing over again, cause I just fucked it up." Upon being told by fellow broadcaster Anthony LaPanta (who was filling in for Bremer) that they were actually broadcasting live, Blyleven said "Oh we're live? I didn't know that." In the first inning of the game, he apologized. Blyleven was originally suspended by the network for two telecasts, but was then suspended three additional games. During his suspension, fans were occasionally spotted holding "Free Bert" signs at the Metrodome. [6]
  • Bert is a well-known opponent of using the pitch count to make relief decisions, and is known to get into heated debates on air about this as well as the rarity of complete-games pitched and over-use of the bullpen by current MLB teams.

Circle Me, Bert

Circle Me, Bert is a popular sign raised by fans of the Minnesota Twins. Fans hope that broadcaster Bert Blyleven will spot their sign and circle them on television with his telestrator.

Use of Bert's "Circle Machine" is an honor rarely extended to his broadcast partner Dick Bremer. Blyleven did allow Bremer to use the telestrator on August 5, 2006. "For heaven's sake, let me circle my daughter," Dick pleaded. Blyleven then permitted Bremer to circle his daughter, who was in the crowd at the Kansas City Royals' Kauffman Stadium. Again, on August 16, 2006, Blyleven permitted Bremer to use the Circle Machine, but was less than thrilled when Bremer drew a peanut shape around a fan's head. Fans have responded to these sorts of incidents by creating new signs for Bremer involving other shapes, including "Triangle Me, Dick" and "Square Me, Dick."

Starting in 2005, fans who are circled have a chance to win $100 in Minnesota State Lottery tickets as part of the promotion called Winner's Circle.

Miscellaneous

  • Blyleven appeared as himself in the 1990 Jim Belushi film Taking Care of Business.[7] During a 2006 broadcast, Blyleven forgot the name of the movie and had to be reminded by a technician in the broadcast booth.
  • Blyleven was one of baseball's most notorious dugout pranksters during his playing days. He earned the moniker "Frying Dutchman" by frequently setting fire to his teammates' shoelaces, a practical joke known as a "hot-foot".
  • ESPN announcer Chris Berman, known for assigning punny nicknames to ballplayers, tagged him as Bert "Be Home" Blyleven.
  • Blyleven is known for reminding the audience of when his birthday occurs.
  • He did not even know his correct name until he was about to get married. He had thought all his life his given name was "Rikaalbert"; when he was about to get married and got a copy of the birth certificate issued to his parents in Zeist, needing the certificate to fill out the marriage-license application, he saw his name for the first time as Rik Aalbert Blyleven.

Source: book Baseball—a Laughing Matter, by Warner Fusselle, Rick Wolff and Brian Zevnik of The Sporting News (1987).

  • Bert started his career before the designated hitter rule was in place. He got his first major league hit off pitcher Mel Stottlemyre of the New York Yankees.
  • Bert served as pitching coach for the Dutch team during the 2009 World Baseball Classic. The team exceeded expectations, beating the team from the Dominican Republic twice to advance to the second round before falling. It did so largely because of strong pitching performances by unlikely players.

Career statistics

W L PCT ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H ER R HR BB SO WP HBP
287 250 .534 3.31 692 685 242 60 0 4970 4632 1830 2029 430 1322 3701 114 155

See also

References

External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Mark Langston
American League Strikeout Champion
1985
Succeeded by
Mark Langston
Preceded by
Storm Davis
AL Comeback Player of the Year
1989
Succeeded by
Dave Winfield
Preceded by
Jerry Koosman (15)
Minnesota Twins Single-Game Strikeout Total Record Holder (15)
1986
Succeeded by
Johan Santana (17)

Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The List of Inappropriate Comments by Bert Blyleven is a list of statements made by Minnesota Twins color commentator Bert Blyleven during Twins television broadcasts. Play-by-play announcer Dick Bremer frequently responds to these comments with stony silence or an awkward attempt to change the conversation.

  • In April 2002, Minneapolis City Council member Joe Biernat was indicted for accepting free plumbing work on his house in exchange for lucrative city contracts. The day after the indictment was made public, City Council President Paul Ostrow was a guest in the Twins' broadcast booth, explaining a plan for a new Twins stadium. At the end of the interview, Blyleven asked Ostrow "So do you know any good plumbers?" After an uncomfortable pause, Ostrow replied "I'm not going there."
  • During a 2006 broadcast, a conversation with a guest morphed from George Brett to singing in the shower. Blyleven mentioned that he had showered with Brett, and the guest expressed surprise. Blyleven exclaimed "Well, there were other guys there! ... Although they did say not to bend over."[1]
  • During the same broadcast, Blyleven asked guest Ace Young (of American Idol fame) if he "got lucky" with show host Paula Abdul[2]

Notes and Explanations

  1. http://www.deadspin.com/sports/baseball/question-seems-perfectly-logical-to-us-177650.php (12:19 PM comment)
  2. http://www.10000takes.com/2006/06/post_6.html

See Also








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