The arguments were the same for years. Bert Blyleven never won a Cy Young Award. He won 20 games just once. He made just two appearance in the All-Star Game. And Blyleven, most notable for his run with the Minnesota Twins, received just 17.5 percent of the votes in ballots cast when he was first eligible for the Hall of Fame.
Quite frankly, those arguments grew old a long time ago, and thankfully they’re not put to rest.
Blyleven and Roberto Alomar were the only two players to receive enough voting support to be elected into baseball’s Hall of Fame this year. When it comes to Blyleven, may I just say: Finally.
Bert Blyleven joined KFAN in Minneapolis with Dan Barreiro to discuss his feelings on being inducted, if he believed this would be the year, why the honor has meant so much to him, his identity as a pitcher, pitching in an era where he always wanted to go nine innings, Jack Morris’ Hall of Fame credentials and his public outcry over the years when he wasn’t receiving enough votes.
On finally being elected to the Hall of Fame:
“I think my wife and I are still numb. You wait so long for it and when that call finally came about 1 o’clock this afternoon … it’s still goosebumps and just a lot of happiness.”
On if he believed this would be the year:
“No assumptions. I think any athlete is superstitious in their own way. For me and my wife Gayle, we didn’t do a lot of interviews. We didn’t want to get too high, didn’t want to get too low. We just kind of rolled with the punches. This morning, we were very nervous and we just tried to stay busy until I got that call. … Once that news was announced, we opened up a bottle of Dom Perignon.”
On how important it was for him to get this honor:
“I think, in life, you open up a paper and there are so many naysayers. I only won 20 games once, only made two All-Star teams. … [Other guys] brought out other numbers. There’s more to baseball than wins and losses. I think we’ve seen it over the last couple of years in the American League.”
On his identity as a competitive pitcher:
“My mentor was my parents. They left Holland with three children, me being one of them, and I’m very proud to say I’m the first Dutch-born pitcher, or player, in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. They landed in Canada and they had $72.00. … I think it’s my dad and mom, what they went through.”
On priding himself on not playing in an era with relief pitching specialists:
“I’m glad I pitched in the era that I did, when nine innings meant something. Again, I go back to my parents, my dad worked from 8 to 5 every day, he didn’t work from 8 to 1. The pitch count has come into play, which we never had, and thank goodness we did not, because I can’t imagine Nolan Ryan with a 100-pitch count because he would’ve gone two innings. … Baseball has so many eras and we’re in an era right now that I don’t like because of the pitch count, but also it’s the determination of the player. He, himself, should stand up and say, ‘I’m not coming out of this game.'”
On Jack Morris and whether he’s worthy of also being in the Hall:
“I look at Jim Kaat, I look at Tommy John, that were not inducted into the Hall of Fame and, in my opinion, they should be. Maybe with some of us guys that took a long time to get in … when we get the opportunity, if they’re not voted in by the writers, they’ll come our way and I’m going to put my two cents in for guys, believe me, for guys that I know sometimes writers overlook.”
On if he was concerned that his vocal support for himself could work against him:
“Not really. It’s a writer’s Hall of Fame, up until another committee votes … and I don’t think that should be changed. … We’re just excited that it happened today and I want to thank everybody that has been in my corner.”
Listen to Bert Blyleven on KFAN in Minneapolis here (Interview begins less than a minute in)