"I'm really happy for Bruce and his family," Blyleven said on Tuesday afternoon. "He's waited a long time for this and it's something that is well deserved."
Besides just the happiness for Sutter's selection, there was some good news for Blyleven
as well. This year he received 53.3 percent of the vote, an increase from his total of 40.9 percent last year. To be inducted, eligible players must receive 75 percent of the vote.
The number jump has been a trend for Blyleven whose vote totals have increased over the years. After getting under 30 percent of the vote in his first six years on the ballot, Blyleven's total jumped to 35.9 percent in 2004 and then the leap to over 40 percent last year.
"My percentage has increased over the last five years and it took a nice jump this year," Blyleven said. "My hope is that the writers who didn't vote for me will take a closer look at what happened today and maybe come on board with a vote next year."
It's still quite a surprise that a pitcher who accomplished so much in his career has yet to be enshrined at Cooperstown. In a career that spanned from 1970-92 with the Twins, Rangers, Pirates, Indians and Angels, Blyleven is in the top end of almost every all time important pitching category.
That includes 287 wins, which is 25th on the all-time list. He is fifth in career strikeouts with 3,701. He is ninth in games started with 685. His 60 shutouts are also ninth all-time. But many are still not convinced, since he lacks benchmark achievements
such as 300 victories or a Cy Young Award. He also had only two All-Star Game invites.
It's not just his impressive numbers that are puzzling over his omission from the Hall but the rare company that Blyleven holds. The 54-year-old is the only eligible pitcher among the top 13 in strikeouts not in the Hall. He is one of only two pitchers in the top 20 in games pitched not inducted. Of the top 20 pitchers in shutouts, only Blyleven is not in. Blyleven is also currently 13th all-time in innings pitched with 4,970, and every pitcher ahead of him is a Hall of Famer, along with many who are behind him.
Support for Blyleven has also increased as the years have passed. In an effort to increase his voting totals, a Twin Cities marketing firm launched a campaign to promote the former pitcher. A Web site was created called Bertbelongs.com, and it does some of the homework for the voters, especially for those in the younger generation who did not get to see the right-handed curveball artist pitch. Blyleven, currently a Twins television analyst, has appreciated the grass roots support.
"It's nice because they compare my numbers with the current Hall of Famers and see how I rank," Blyleven said late in 2005. "I don't want to sound negative, but [the writers] don't know how difficult it is to win a Major League game or to stand on the mound and not get run support."
While the voters may not have recognized Blyleven's achievements, there are plenty of others within the baseball community that know what he accomplished and how he definitely deserves to get in
-- even if it's not this year.
"He was as good as there was for a long time," Hall of Fame third baseman George Brett said about Blyleven last year. "Bert is up there with the toughest four or five guys I faced in my career.
"Hopefully, he will get in. I'd think he'd be a perfect fit."
The fit might not have been right for the voters this time, but there's always another chance next year, and for Blyleven, waiting
doesn't bothers him. And this year was just another sign that his turn could be next.
"The good news is that the numbers keep moving in the right direction," Blyleven said. "Hopefully I'll get in one day. Good things can come to those who wait, just like they did for Bruce."