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Revision as of 02:17, 24 July 2011

Bert Blyleven
Personal information
Date of birth April 6, 1951 (1951-04-06) (age 70)
Place of birth Netherlands Flag.png Zeist, Netherlands
Batted Right Threw Right
MLB Debut
June 5, 1970 for the Minnesota Twins
Last MLB apperance
October 4, 1992 for the California Angels
Career information
MLB Draft 1969; Round: 3 / Pick: 55th
Selected by the Minnesota Twins
Drafted out of Santiago HS (CA)
1970-1976 Minnesota Twins
1976-1977 Texas Rangers
1978-1980 Pittsburgh Pirates
1981-1985 Cleveland Indians
1985-1988 Minnesota Twins
1989-1992 California Angels
Career highlights and awards
  • 2× All-Star selection (1973, 1985)
  • 2× World Series champion (1979, 1987)
  • 1989 AL Comeback Player of the Year
  • Pitched no-hitter on September 22, 1977
  • Minnesota Twins #28 retired
Stats at
Star.pngStar.png Baseball Hall of Fame Star.png Star.png
Induction 2011

Rik Aalbert "Bert" Blyleven (born April 6, 1951 in Zeist, Netherlands), is a former Major League Baseball pitcher who played from 1970 - 1992, and was best known for his curveball. Amond post-World War II pitchers who were primarily known as curveball pitchers, he has been most favorably compared with Johnny Sain and Camilo Pascual.

Baseball career

Blyleven, who was born in the Netherlands but raised in Southern California, became interested in baseball as a young boy watching Sandy Koufax pitch for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Blyleven was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the third round in 1969, and after a brief stint in the minor leagues he was called up by the Twins on 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 and suffered with a dismal Minnesota Twins team. 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.

On December 8, 1977, Blyleven and John Milner were traded 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 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 was released following that season with a career 287-250 record with 3,701 strikeouts (only thirteen 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. Blyleven and Hall of Famer Herb Pennock are the only major league pitchers to win a game before their 20th birthdays and after their 40th birthdays.

Blyleven (with the possible exception of Carl Mays) 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, he will lose eligibility for the Writers' vote if stll not elected after the 2012 ballot. If that happens, he can still enter the Hall of Fame through the Veterans Committee. He is the only eligible retired member of the 3000 strikeout club not in the Hall of Fame. Blyleven is one of only 3 pitchers ever to win a major league game before the age of 20 (as a teenager) and after the age of 40. The oither 2 are Herb Pennock (a Yankee Hall of Famer) and Mike Morgan. 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. Because of his long association with the club, Blyleven has said that he would likely enter as a Minnesota Twin. Blyleven missed by only 5 Hall of Fame votes in January, 2010, finishing 25 votes behind electee Andre Dawson and first-time candidate Roberto Alomar. Blyleven stands an excellent chance of making the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2011.

Commentating career

In 1996, Blyleven became a color commentator for the Twins. Early in the 2002 season, during a quiet portion of a Twins game, he circled a fan carrying a sign in the stands of the Metrodome on his telestrator, and signs reading "Circle Me, Bert" (or variants thereupon) quickly became popular phenomenon at the stadium, continuing to the present. Blyleven's commentary is frequently risqué for a baseball broadcast, a fact which seems to cause play-by-play announcer Dick Bremer no small amount of discomfort (see below).


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."[1]
  • During the same broadcast, Blyleven asked guest Ace Young (of American Idol fame) if he "got lucky" with show host Paula Abdul[2]
  • During the pregame show on September 3, 2006, Blyleven twice used the word "f---" 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 f---in' 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. Video of Blyleven's on-air mishap.[3]
  • During the 2007 season, Blyleven and Bremer were discussing bowling, and Bremer said he had his name on several bowling shirts. Blyleven's response: "So you have 'Dick' on your shirt?"[4]

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 "Rhombus Me, Dick."

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

Other comments

  • Blyleven is known to invoke "old school" thinking about pitching strategy, particularly about the tendency to remove starting pitchers once they have passed the 100-pitch count. He will sometimes say, "What happens to you if you exceed 100 pitches? Do you explode?" with no apparent irony. Blyleven, who pitched many complete games in his career, was also among the leaders in home runs allowed, and twice led the league in giving up the "big bang".
  • Blyleven is also known to work reminders of his own birthday date into the game discussion.
  • In a 2007 broadcast, Blyleven and Bremer were attempting to locate Two Harbors, MN. Bert stated that the town is, "between Three Harbors and One Harbor."
  • On June 19, 2007, on the team bus to a game at the New York Mets, Bert said he would have his head shaved if that night's starting pitcher, Johan Santana, threw a complete-game shutout. The Twins won, 9-0, and Santana went the distance. Santana shaved Blyleven's head the following day.


  • Blyleven appeared as himself in the 1990 Jim Belushi vehicle "Taking Care of Business".[5] During a 2006 broadcast, Blyleven forgot the name of the movie and had to be reminded by a technician in the broadcast booth.
  • Gave up Bob Horner's first major league home run.
  • He also gave up a home run on the 1st pitch of Jay Bell's career. It was also his 50th allowed of the season, still an MLB record.
  • 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."

Career statistics

287 250 .534 3.31 692 685 242 60 0 4970 4632 1830 2029 430 1322 3701 114 155

See also

Preceded by:
Mark Langston
American League Strikeout Champion
Succeeded by:
Mark Langston
Preceded by:
Storm Davis
AL Comeback Player of the Year
Succeeded by:
Dave Winfield

randy Johnson


External links