- April 6, 1951
- 6' 3"
- 200 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 6-05-1970 with MIN
Though he won twenty games just once in his career, Bert Blyleven pitched for 22 seasons, baffling batters with his easy delivery and nasty curveball. He won World Series rings in both major leagues, even though just 34 of his 287 career victories came outside the American League. He has the most career strikeouts of any pitcher who is not in the Hall of Fame.
#28 (1970-1977, 1981-1990, 1992), #22 (1978-1980)
"He was as good as there was for a long time. Bert is up there with the toughest four or five guys I faced in my career." — Hall of Fame third baseman George Brett
"I'm sure some other club would appreciate my consistency on the mound every fourth day. I'm in the driver's seat. I've got a chance to play where I want to. I'd love to play for the Angels. They've got a great organization and super fans." Bert Blyleven on his desire to be traded from the Twins during his final season under contract, in 1976. A few days later, Blyleven was traded to Texas.
It's difficult to choose a best year for Blyleven, who only won twenty games once (as a young pitcher in 1973 with the Twins), never led the league in ERA, and had several similar seasons. But we'll pick 1989, a season which epitomizes Blyleven's long, steady career. At the age of 38, in his first campaign with the Angels, who traditionally love veterans, Bert went 17-5 with a 2.73 ERA. He threw a league-best five shutouts, including the last of his 60 career whitewashes. In 241 innings he walked just 41 batters, striking out 131. Included that year was his 270th career victory.
As a member of the Indians, Bert Blyleven collected his 200th win on June 14, 1985, against the Oakland A's… On August 1, 1986, Blyleven joined the 3,000 strikeout club, as he whiffed 15 batters, again against the A's.
Selected by Minnesota Twins in the 3rd round of the free-agent draft (June 5, 1969); Traded by Minnesota Twins with Danny Thompson to Texas Rangers in exchange for Bill Singer, Roy Smalley, Mike Cubbage, Jim Gideon and $250000 (June 1, 1976); Traded by Texas Rangers to Pittsburgh Pirates as part of four-team trade in which Texas Rangers sent Adrian Devine, Tommy Boggs and Eddie Miller to Atlanta Braves - Atlanta Braves sent Willie Montanez to New York Mets - Texas Rangers sent Tom Grieve to New York Mets - New York Mets sent Jon Matlack to Texas Rangers - New York Mets sent John Milner to Pittsburgh Pirates - Pittsburgh Pirates sent Al Oliver and Nelson Norman to Texas Rangers(March 15, 1978) - and Texas Rangers sent Ken Henderson to New York Mets(March 15, 1978); Traded by Pittsburgh Pirates with Manny Sanguillen to Cleveland Indians in exchange for Gary Alexander, Victor Cruz, Rafael Vasquez and Bob Owchinko (December 9, 1980); Traded by Cleveland Indians to Minnesota Twins in exchange for Curt Wardle, Jay Bell, Jim Weaver and a player to be named later (August 1, 1985) - Cleveland Indians received Rich Yett (September 17, 1985); Traded by Minnesota Twins with Kevin Trudeau to California Angels in exchange for Mike Cook, Rob Wassenaar and Paul Sorrento (November 3, 1988); Granted free agency (November 1, 1991); Signed by California Angels (January 22, 1992); Granted free agency (November 4, 1992); Signed by Minnesota Twins (January 7, 1993). The Pirates offered Blyleven to the California Angels for Carney Lansford at the 1980 winter meetings, but were turned down.
Blyleven's curveball was considered the best of his generation, and many, including Johnny Bench, Reggie Jackson and Rod Carew, called it the toughest breaking pitch they ever faced.
None really, outside of his lack of respect, which continues to haunt him after his retirement.
Blyleven claimed the success of his legendary curveball was due to his abnormally long fingers. Born in Holland, Blyleven claimed that the length of his fingers was due to sticking them in dikes as a child.
Career Stats by Team
Blyleven had a winning record everywhere he pitched, even in Cleveland and Texas. The Twins record includes his stints at the start and end of his career. Team W L Pct ERA K Twins 149 138 .519 3.28 2035 Rangers 23 23 .500 2.74 326 Pirates 34 28 .548 3.47 522 Indians 48 37 .565 3.23 548 Angels 33 24 .579 3.92 270
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