Blyleven reaches rare mark with 250th win

Part of the INSIDE PITCH series
Written by: Craig Muder

En route to Cooperstown, Bert Blyleven reached a pitching milestone that few hurlers ever approach.

On June 19, 1988, Blyleven allowed just five hits and one run over seven innings to lead his Minnesota Twins past the Seattle Mariners at the Metrodome.

Blyleven struck out seven and didn’t walk a batter as he evened his record at 6-6 on the campaign.

He became just the 38th pitcher in history to reach the 250-win mark.

“I always knew I would be in the big leagues a long time,” Blyleven told the Minneapolis Star Tribune after his 250th win.

“I’m not stopping. There are a lot more wins left.”

Blyleven dominated batters for more than two decades with one of the best curveballs the game has ever seen and an underappreciated fastball.

“One curve I’ll always remember was when I was pitching for Pittsburgh,” said Blyleven, who began with career with the Twins before pitching for Texas, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and another stint with Minnesota before finishing with the Angels. “Terry Kennedy was a young player with St. Louis. I threw him an 0-2 curve and it snapped.

"Terry’s reaction was to swing straight down, like he was chopping the plate with an axe.”

The 250th win was a high-point of Blyleven’s 1988 season.

Following the 1987 campaign where Blyleven helped the Twins win their first World Series title, Blyleven went 10-17 with a 5.43 earned-run average.

It was one of only five seasons in Blyleven’s 22-year big league career where he posted a sub-.500 record.

He bounced back in 1989 – following a trade to the Angels – with perhaps his best season, going 17-5 with a 2.73 ERA and an American League-best five shutouts at the age of 38. An arm injury the next season cost him some of 1990 and all of the 1991 season, but he returned to go 8-12 in 1992 before retiring.

Blyleven’s final numbers: 287-250, with a 3.31 ERA and a remarkable 1.198 WHIP. He struck out 3,701 batters (fifth all-time) in 4,970 innings (14th all-time) while authoring 60 shutouts (ninth all-time).

Blyleven was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2011.

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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Part of the INSIDE PITCH series