Sunday, July 24, 2011

Blyleven enters the Hall with class

On Sunday, Twins fans watched with anticipation to see one of their own be enshrined into the hallowed halls of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Bert Blyleven was selected earlier this year to be a member of the Class of 2011 in Cooperstown, NY. During the induction ceremony, he gave fans a great speech that was full of laughs and tears along the way.

In his speech, Blyleven took fans all the way back to his youth with stories of listening to Dodgers games with his father. He wanted nothing more than to throw a baseball with anyone that would catch it from him. It was clear to see that Blyleven's family had a huge impact on him while he was growing up in southern California.

There were somber moments in the speech when Blyleven made sure to mention some of his former teammates that were no longer with us for his induction. Harmon Killebrew, Willie Stargell, Bob Feller, and Kirby Puckett all passed on before getting to see Blyleven take his rightful place along side the greats in Cooperstown.

The biggest absence on this day had to be Bert's father, Joe. His father passed away seven years ago after battling Parkinson's disease. Blyleven's love of baseball and his hard work ethic came from his father and it is a disappointment that he could not be there to witness this crowning moment for his son.

There were great stories of his call-up to the big leagues and some problems at the hotel on the first night. He told the story of the first batter he faced with the Twins, Lee Maye, who hit a home run during that at-bat. Blyleven would go on to give up many more beyond that initial home run but at the end of the day he is still a Hall-of-Fame pitcher.

Blyleven is the first Dutchman to be elected to the Hall-of-Fame and the fourth member wearing a Minnesota Twins cap to be enshrined. His love of his homeland and his love of the Minnesota Twins are traits that he will carry with him for the rest of his life.

Now he can also carry the title of Hall-of-Famer...


Bert Blyleven's Hall of Fame plaque:
"DETERMINED, DURABLE AND FUN-LOVING DUTCHMAN WHO BAFFLED BIG-LEAGUE BATTERS WITH A CRUEL AND KNEE-BUCKLING BREAKING BALL. PITCHED 22 MAJOR LEAGUE SEASONS, RECORDING 287 CAREER WINS, 242 COMPLETE GAMES, 4,970 INNINGS PITCHED, AND AN ASTOUNDING 60 CAREER SHUTOUTS. RECORDED 3,701 STRIKEOUTS, THIRD MOST ALL-TIME WHEN HE RETIRED. FANNED AT LEAST 200 BATTERS EIGHT TIMES. A TWO-TIME WORLD SERIES CHAMPION WITH THE 1979 PIRATES AND 1987 TWINS. POSTED A 5-1 MARK IN EIGHT CAREER POSTSEASON GAMES."

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