Netherlands born Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven won 287 games and struck out 3701 batters over a 23 year career with the Minnesota Twins, Texas Rangers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cleveland Indians and California Angels which he began in 1970 at age 19. He had a nasty curveball, spoke his mind and was a notorious prankster. He was a two time World Champion with the “We Are Family” Pirates in 1979 and in his second stint with the Twins in 1987; a two time All Star with the Twins and the Indians; and the 1989 A.L. Comeback Player of the Year. He won 20 games for the Twins in 1973 and 19 for the Indians in 1984, and he followed that season up in 1985 with 17 wins, 5 shutouts and a led the A.L. with an astounding 24 complete games. On September 22, 1977 he no-hit the Angels while pitching for the Rangers. Bert was inducted in the Twins Hall of Fame in 2002 and Cooperstown in 2011. The Twins also retired his No. 28 that same year. Bert has been a Twins’ broadcaster since 1996. Here is his Opening Day memory.
“I think throughout my 23 years, I probably opened the season maybe a half a dozen times, so to pick one specific date is really hard.” But my most memorable Opening Day probably was in 1972–my first one–at the age of just 21 years old. Being such a young age and also having guys on the team like Jim Perry and Jim Kaat, and getting the nod ahead of them, was very memorable. I’m not exactly sure how I did, but being an Opening Day starter at such a young age was an honor.
Bert pitched 6 innings that day against the Oakland A’s and gave up only 2 runs. But his Twins lost to the A’s 4-3 in 10.
See you in two. Richie