Bert Blyleven’s career baseball accomplishments were acknowledged in the greatest possible way in early 2011, when he was elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame. Drafted straight from high school by the Minnesota Twins in 1969, he made his major league debut with the Twins the following season. 22 years later, he had accumulated 287 wins while pitching for a number of major league clubs, including the Twins, Texas Rangers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cleveland Indians, and California Angels. While he ended up only 13 victories short of the exclusive “300 Win Club”, Bert was known for his devastating curveball, and his 3,701 career strikeouts still rank 5th in the all- time Major League record book.
Born in the Netherlands, Bert moved with his family to Southern California at the age of two. He quickly became enamored with the game of baseball, watching Sandy Koufax pitch for the Los Angeles Dodgers and listening to Vin Scully on the radio, while he also practiced his pitching on a backyard mound built by his father.
After his playing days, Bert joined the Twins broadcasting team in 1996, and quickly became a fan favorite for his baseball insight and sharp sense of humor, while his easy banter with play-by-play announcer Dick Bremer has made Twins telecasts among the most popular in all of baseball. Using a telestrator early in his announcing career, he began circling fans who had brought creative signs and posters to the games, and that tradition quickly spawned its own cottage industry as fans began to create and bring “Circle Me, Bert” signs to the ballpark. The practice is now widespread, both at Target Field for Twins home games and on the road, where Twins fans visit other ballparks with their “Circle Me, Bert” posters, in hopes of being spotted and circled by the former strikeout artist.
In 2011, Bert earned the greatest honor and recognition any baseball player can attain, when he was elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame. He will be inducted, in Cooperstown, on July 24. He is the first Dutch player ever to be elected to the Hall.
"There is no substitute for Excellence – not even success. Success is tricky, perishable and often outside our control; the pursuit of success makes a poor cornerstone, especially for a whole personality. Excellence is dependable, lasting and largely an issue within our own control; pursuit of excellence, in and for itself, is the best of foundations,” The Heart of the Order, by Thomas Boswell (Doubleday, 1989).