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MLB Hall Of Fame: Bert Blyleven Finally Joins Elite Circle

It took him fourteen tries to get there, but Bert Blyleven will finally achieve baseball immortality on Sunday, July 24 when he is enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Blyleven is one of three members of the Hall of Fame Class of 2011, along with second baseman Roberto Alomar and executive Pat Gillick.

Having been denied in his first thirteen attempts at the Hall of Fame, Blyleven broke through this past year, garnering 79.7% of the vote, more than the 75% necessary for enshrinement. Blyleven had two different stints with the Minnesota Twins in his twenty-two Major League seasons. He broke into the big leagues with the Twins in 1970, and pitched for the team until June 1, 1976. That's when he was traded to the Texas Rangers for Mike Cubbage, Jim Gideon, Bill Singer, Roy Smalley, and $250,000 in cash. He also pitched for the Twins from 1985 to 1988, including being a part of the 1987 World Championship team.

Blyleven stayed with the Rangers through the 1977 season, and was traded in December of that year to the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he pitched until 1980, winning his first World Series ring with the 1979 "We Are Family" Pirates. The Pirates traded him to the Cleveland Indians in December of 1980, as part of the first four-team trade in Major League Baseball history (the trade also included the Atlanta Braves and the New York Mets).

On August 1, 1985, the Indians traded him back to the Twins. In November of 1988, the Twins traded Blyleven away again, this time to the California Angels, whom he pitched for until 1990. Blyleven took the 1991 season off, but returned to the Angels for the 1992 season, his last in the Major Leagues. He signed as a free agent with the Twins on January 7, 1993, but did not make the squad and announced his official retirement shortly thereafter.

In his career, Blyleven compiled a career record of 287 wins and 250 losses, along with a 3.31 career ERA. He still ranks fifth all-time on the career strikeout list with 3,701, trailing only Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, and Steve Carlton in that category. He threw complete games in 242 of his 685 career starts. He also, unfortunately, holds the Major League record for both home runs allowed in a season (50 back in 1985) and home runs allowed in consecutive seasons (96 between the 1985 and 1986 seasons).

Congratulations to Bert Blyleven on his momentous accomplishment.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.