And just like that, it’s over.
On Tuesday Twins color commentator Bert Blyleven announced on Twitter that he was informed by Fox Sports North that the “Circle Me Bert” tradition would be no more.
In its place, Fox Sports North is introducing a new concept it says will get "fans at the ballpark and watching at home" involved. Called the "Winners Circle," it will highlight milestones for fans (like birthday and anniversaries), and fan submissions will be collected on Fox Sports North's website, the company said.
"This new concept should be a fun broadcast element for Bert and all of our analysts in the booth this season," the company said in a statement.
For roughly 15 seasons, the former Twins pitcher would – as the Circle Me Bert name suggests – use his telestrator (which is a piece of broadcasting equipment) to circle sign-holding fans begging for the ulitmate honor when found by that game’s camera operator.
“I probably see a couple hundred a game [at home] and 20 to 50 on the road,” Blyleven told the Star Tribune in 2002, the year the phenomenon began after Blyleven spontaneously circled a sign-holding Twins fan during the broadcast.
"I think it's awesome. It's neat. On the road or at home, so many
people have an opportunity to say hello to their loved ones or have
a chance to get on TV and have people see them."
Fans for years have made note of the hundreds of miles they’d driven just to attract the attention of Blyleven and his telestrator with signs showcasing those three words: "Circle Me Bert."
But no more.
Or is it?
“Doesn’t mean you can’t bring your signs,” he wrote on Twitter.
Touché. But it’ll never be the same.