Bert Blyleven timeline: A lifetime of baseball

  • Updated: July 23, 2011 - 8:47 AM
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Bert Blyleven.

Photo: John Croft, Star Tribune

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Here is a timeline of Bert Blyleven's baseball career. Hyperlinks with many of the dates will take you to material from sources including Star Tribune and other archives, and statistics from baseball-reference.com.

April 6, 1951 -- Rik Aalbert Blyleven born in the Netherlands. His father moves the family to Canada when Bert was 2 and to California when he was 5. Blyleven was raised in Garden Grove, Cal., where his father, Joe, built a pitcher’s mound in the backyard of the family home.

1966-69 – Blyleven attends Santiago High School, where he stars in baseball and runs cross country

June 1969 – Selected by the Twins in the third round of MLB’s amateur draft.

July-Sept. 1969 – Compiles a 7-2 record and 2.09 ERA with two Twins minor-league teams.

April 1970 – Assigned to Class AA Evansville, where he makes seven starts before getting called up to the majors.

June 5, 1970 – Makes major league debut against Washington Senators. Gives up home run to first batter he faces, Lee Maye, and wins the game 2-1. Blyleven had a 10-9 record and 3.18 ERA

1970 – Named American League rookie pitcher of the year by The Sporting News.

1973 – Led the American League with nine shutouts and posted a 20-17 record. Pitched 325 innings.

1976 – Involved in a contract dispute with owner Calvin Griffith, who sought to trade Blyleven.

May 31, 1976 – Made obscene gesture at fans at Metropolitan Stadium when he walked off mound after a loss to the Angels, the final start of his stint with the Twins.

June 1, 1976 – Traded to Texas in a deal that brought Roy Smalley, three other players and $250,000 to Minnesota.

Sept. 22, 1977 – Pitched a no-hitter against California in his final start of the season.

Dec. 8, 1977 – Traded from Texas to Pittsburgh.

1978 – Led Pittsburgh in ERA, complete games and strikeouts.

1979 – Blyleven goes 12-5 on 37 starts and the Pirates win the World Series. Blyleven is the winning pitcher in Game 3 of the NLCS and Game 5 (pitching in relief) of the World Series.

May `1, 1980 – Leaves the team after 15 games and asks to be traded, citing “non-support and lack of confidence” from manager Chuck Tanner. He returns 10 days later and finishes the season 8-13.

Dec. 9, 1980 – Traded from Pittsburgh to Cleveland.

1982 – Elbow injury limits Blyleven to four starts.

1984 – Has spectacular season, going 19-7 with a 2.87 ERA for a Cleveland team that finished 75-87. Finished third in Cy Young voting behind two relief pitchers.

Aug. 1, 1985 – Returns to the Twins in a trade with Cleveland. Finishes the season by going 8-5, 300 for the Twins in 14 starts.

Aug. 1, 1986 – Blyleven get his 3,000th strikeout against Oakland, pitching a two-hitter against Oakland in a 15-strikeout performance.

1986 – Sets a major league record by giving up 50 home runs, including 27 solo home runs and 18 with one runner on base.

1987 – Blyleven goes 15-12, 4-01 for the World Series-winning Twins. Blyeleven wins both of his ALCS starts and goes 1-1 during the World Series, winning Game 2 and losing Game 5.

1988 – In final season with Twins, Blyelven goes 10-17 with a career-high 5.43 ERA. It was the third time in his career that he’d lost 17 games in a season.

Nov. 3, 1988 – Traded to California as part of a five-player deal.

1989 – Goes 17-5 with 2.73 ERA for the Angels, leading the AL in shutouts with five. Finished fourth in Cy Young Award balloting.

1991 – Missed the entire season with rotator cuff surgery and then pitched one final season for the Angels in 1992.

1993 – Went to training camp with the Twins, but didn’t make the team and said that he was officially retired.

1996 – Blyleven joins the Twins as a TV commentator.

1998 – In first year of Hall of Fame eligibility, gets named on only 17.6 percent of ballots. His total dropped to 14.1 percent the following year.

2002 – Inducted into the Twins’ Hall of Fame.

2004 – A California blogger, Rich Lederer, starts making a statistical case for Blyleven’s inclusion in the Hall of Fame. Blyleven was named that year on slightly more than one-third of ballots; 75 percent is needed to get into Cooperstown.

2005 – Blyleven reaches the 40 percent mark for the first time.

September 2006 – Blyleven was suspended briefly by the Twins for cursing on the air before a Twins-Yankees game. He thought the segment that he botched was being recorded, but it was live.

2009 – Serves as pitching coach for the Dutch national team during the World Baseball Classic. The Dutch finish second in a major surprise.

2010 – Blyleven named on 74.2 percent of Hall of Fame votes – coming five votes short of being elected.

Jan. 5, 2011 – Blyleven and Roberto Alomar are elected. It was the 14th year of eligibility, for Blyleven, his next-to-last chance. “It’s been 14 years of praying and waiting,” he said.

July 16, 2011 -- Number is retired during pregame ceremony at Target Field.

Sunday – Bert will be inducted to the Hall of Fame during ceremonies in Cooperstown, N.Y.

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