Bert Blyleven and legions of Twins fans can circle July 24, 2011 on their calendars.
That’s the date Blyleven will be inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame, in Cooperstown, N.Y., after finally being elected Wednesday.
In his 14th year on the writers’ ballot, Blyleven received 79.7 percent of the vote, climbing above the 75 percent needed to gain election to Cooperstown, N.Y.
Among 10-year members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, 581 submitted ballots, including five who left their ballot blank, so players needed 436 votes to gain entry.
Roberto Alomar will join Blyleven this year on the Cooperstown stage after receiving 90.0 percent of the vote, in his second year on the ballot.
Last year, when Andre Dawson was elected to the Hall, Blyleven fell just five votes short and Alomar fell just eight votes short.
For Jack Morris, the wait continues. In his 12th year on the ballot, he received 53.5 percent of the vote, up from 52.3 percent last year.
Blyleven, 59, will become the fourth player to go into the Hall of Fame as a Twin, joining Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew and Kirby Puckett.
Blyleven ranks fifth on the all-time strikeout list with 3,701 and ninth on the all-time shutout list with 60, but it’s been a long road to Cooperstown since he retired in 1993.
In 1998, Blyleven’s first year on the ballot, he received 17.5 percent of the vote. Blyleven’s chances didn’t look much better in 2007, when his vote total went backward from the previous year, dropping from 53.3 percent to 47.7 percent.
Blyleven went 287-250 with a 3.31 ERA in his 22-year major league career. He didn’t win a Cy Young won, made just two All-Star teams, had just one 20-win season (1973) and set a record in 1986 when he gave up 50 home runs for the Twins.
For years, voters seemed to hold that part of his resume against him, but over time, an appreciation for Blyleven’s full body of work has grown. Some have said he had one of the best curve balls of all-time, and he has the strikeout total to show for it.
Blyleven has said he plans to continue broadcasting for the Twins, but they’ll need to find a temporary replacement July 24, when they’re playing the Tigers at Target Field. Blyleven will be busy getting a plaque and giving a speech.