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Bert Blyleven Biofile

Bert Blyleven Biofile

Bert Blyleven Biofile
Status: Former Major League pitcher from 1970-92. 2011 Hall of Fame inductee.

Date of birth: April 6, 1951

Born in: Zeist, Netherlands

First baseball memory: "In Southern California, listening to it on the radio with my dad [Joe]. Got a chance to listen to Vin Scully and Jerry Doggett do Dodger broadcasts in the late '50s, early '60s. We came to the U.S. in 1957. I was born in Holland."

Baseball inspirations: "My dad introduced me to baseball. Then one of my friends asked if I could play on a team. My dad said I could, and I just fell in love with the game. Then it was Jim Perry and Jim Kaat with the Minnesota Twins, early in my career, in my first Spring Training in 1970. I made the Twins when I was 19 in 1970. Then it was Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale."

Last book read: "The Cooperstown Hall of Fame book or the Twins media guide, since I broadcast. I'm not a big reader."

Favorite movies: "Quigley Down Under, Tom Selleck. My wife hates that movie. I'm probably one of the few people that liked Water World with Kevin Costner. Christmas Vacation. M*A*S*H."

First job: "Paper route for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner when I was 11."

First car: "1956 Mercury. A tank. We put flower decals all over it."

Current car: "A 2004 Hummer."

Pregame feeling: "I was nervous. The feeling of anticipation, of not knowing what's going to happen. Anxious. And excited. All in one."

Greatest sports moment(s): "Two greatest moments. Being part of the 1979 "We Are Family" Pittsburgh Pirates. And the 1987 Minnesota Twins World Series championship. That's of my playing career. The greatest moment was probably a month ago, when I got elected to Cooperstown, the Baseball Hall of Fame."

Most painful moment: "I can honestly say I don't think I had ... maybe the surgeries I had -- 1981 elbow. In 1990, I had shoulder surgery. Those were the most painful because I couldn't compete."

Favorite uniforms: "I think Chicago White Sox, when they had the shorts in the '70s. I'd let guys get on base so I could watch them slide into second base and tear up their knees."

Favorite ballparks: "I really like Kansas City Royals stadium -- Kauffman Stadium. And also Anaheim Stadium."

Closest baseball friends: "Probably Jim Hughes, my first roommate. He works for Rawlings Sporting Goods now. Frank Viola. Tom Brunansky. I have a lot of friends, I could go on and on."

Funniest players encountered: "Mickey Hatcher. Jerry Reuss. Bob McClure. Kent Hrbek."

Toughest competitors encountered: "Probably Gaylord Perry. Fierce competitor. I got to play with and watch him play. Whatever it took, he found a way to win."

Strangest games: "The perfect game I saw David Wells pitch in New York, getting to witness that. Getting to witness Len Barker's perfect game as a teammate in 1982."

Embarrassing baseball memory: "Probably when I flipped the fans off in Baltimore. I was embarrassed because of my actions. I also did it in Minnesota. I knew I was traded to the Texas Rangers after the game in 1976. There was a bunch of [stuff] behind the mound. As I got the final out in the top of the ninth -- we lost 3-2 -- I gave them the one-finger salute, leaving the mound for the last time at Metropolitan Stadium with the Twins. I was going for my 100th win. Calvin Griffith wanted me to pitch one more time before the trade."

Favorite players to watch: "I would have to say everybody. These guys are the best at what they do. There are 30 teams, 25 players on each, that's 700 of the world's best players. I love baseball. I love watching baseball. As a broadcaster, I get to watch the best 700 players put on the uniform year after year. That, to me, is exciting."

Favorite sport outside baseball: "Golf. Definitely golf. Actually played golf today. Shot 79 today. I'm a four or five handicapper."

Favorite athletes to watch: "I liked watching Wayne Gretzky, the greatest hockey player. Larry Bird. Magic Johnson. I go back to Jerry West and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with the Lakers. Tiger Woods. George McNeill and Derek Lamely -- two local golfers that I follow. Dick Weber in bowling. I bowled before I played baseball. John McEnroe in tennis. I loved his personality on the court. How could you not love Muhammad Ali? The Greatest. I met him one time. It was an honor. I was with a ballclub in the 1970s. We were in the airport terminal and he was there. A bunch of us went up and introduced ourselves. He was very cordial and, I thought, very classy. I'm just glad he didn't punch me."

Funny baseball memory: "Being around the clubhouse every day with 25 guys, something happens every day that makes you laugh. From snakes being in guy's lockers. Hot foots. Dressing up the rookies. Live snakes. But not cobras or boa constrictors, just small garter snakes. The Latin guys don't like snakes. Probably the place that was the most fun was Pittsburgh in 1979 and 1980 with Dave Parker and Willie Stargell."

People qualities most admired: "Anybody with a big heart. That you can see they care about others. My wife [Gayle] is an example of that. Someone that is kind and they have a big heart."

Career accomplishments: Major League pitcher from 1970-92 with Minnesota, Texas, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and California; Two World Series championships in '79 and '87; two-time All-Star '73, '85; Pitched no-hitter in '77 with Texas; '89 American League Comeback Player of Year; Compiled 287-250 career record with 3,701 strikeouts and a 3.31 ERA; TV commentator for Twins since '96.

Mark Malinowski is a contributing writer to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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