Bert BlylevenRik Aalbert Blyleven
Inducted to the Hall of Fame in: 2011
Primary team: Minnesota Twins
Primary position: Pitcher
Bert Blyleven didn’t experience baseball until well into his childhood years. He quickly, however, made up for lost time.
Rik Aalbert Blyleven was born in Zeist, Holland, on April 6, 1951, and was raised in Southern California. He became interested in baseball when his father took him to see Sandy Koufax pitch for the Dodgers. Later, he was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the third round of the 1969 amateur draft.
He became the youngest pitcher in the majors when he was called up to the Twins on June 2, 1970 after just 21 minor league starts. He gave up a home run to the first batter he faced, Lee Maye of the Senators, but got the win that day and nine more that season – and was eventually named A.L. Rookie Pitcher of the Year by the Sporting News.
In 1973, Blyleven won 20 games and threw 325 innings. After five years with 200-plus innings pitched and 15-plus wins for the Twins, he was sent to the Texas Rangers. Blyleven threw a no-hitter for his last start of his first year with the Rangers against California on Sept. 22, 1977.
Often considered to have the toughest curveball of his time, Blyleven threw two different types, the “roundhouse” and the “overhand drop”. He gripped both like a fastball and used a balanced, full follow-through to get movement.
“It (his curveball) was nasty, I'll tell you that,” said Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson. “Enough to make your knees buckle. Bert (Blyleven) was a terrific pitcher – a dominating pitcher.”
After the 1977 season, he was traded to the Pirates in a rare four-team trade. The Pirates won the World Series in 1979 and Blyleven went 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA in the Series.
He was traded to Cleveland after the 1980 season, and in 1982 was sidelined by an elbow injury and only started four games. He came back strong in 1984, going 19-7.
In 1985, Blyleven went back to Minnesota. The following year, he established a league record with eight seasons with 200 or more strikeouts. 1987 marked his ninth season with 15 or more wins and he led the Twins to the World Series with two ALCS wins and another in the World Series. At age 38, he went to the Angels where he went 17-5 with a 2.73 ERA. For his efforts – from losing 17 games in 1988 and winning 17 games in 1989 – Blyleven won the A.L. Comeback Player of the Year Award.
He retired in 1992 after 22 seasons. Blyleven finished his career with 3,701 strikeouts, 287 victories, 60 shutouts and 242 complete games.
Year Inducted: 2011
Primary Team: Minnesota Twins
Position Played: Pitcher
Birth place: Zeist. Netherlands
Birth year: 1951
Minnesota Twins (1970-1976)
Texas Rangers (1976-1977)
Pittsburgh Pirates (1978-1980)
Cleveland Indians (1981-1985)
LA/California Angels (1989-1990)
LA/California Angels (1992)
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