Bert Blyleven inducted into Hall of Fame
COOPERSTOWN, New York (USA) -
Former Major League-pitcher and Dutch-born Bert Blyleven on Sunday officially became a member of the elite group that is elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The induction ceremony of Blyleven, along with Puerto Rican Robert Alomar, was held near the Hall of Fame, which is located in the small city of Cooperstown.
Near Doubleday Field, which was the site where baseball was first played in the USA in the 19th century.
Blyleven, who was born in 1951 in Dutch city Zeist and wore an orange tie during the induction, was elected into the Hall of Fame in January when he was on the ballot for the fourteenth time.
The former pitcher of the Minnesota Twins, Texas Rangers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cleveland Indians and California Angels moved to the USA with his parents when he was only two years old, but he is the first Dutchborn player who entered the Hall of Fame.
Two years ago, Blyleven was the Pitching Coach of the Dutch National Baseball Team during the successful World Baseball Classic, where the Dutch reached the second round after winning twice vs. the Dominican Republic.
Blyleven played 22 seasons (1970-1992) in the Major League, won 287 games, struckout 3701 batters (fifth on the all-time list) and won the World Series twice.
,,I'm very proud to be the first Dutchman to be in the Hall of Fame'', Blyleven stated in his opening remarks of his speech.
Blyleven remembered the late Harmon Killebrew, Willie Stargell, Bob Feller, Chuck Tanner and Kirby Puckett, who played an important part throughout his career.
Blyleven also told that in 1953, he went with his parents to Canada, before immigrating to the USA.
His father became a huge baseballfan by listening to the radio.
,,I used to keep score and loved to put in the K'', Blyleven looked back.
When he was nine, he started playing baseball in Little League as a catcher, but was asked to become a pitcher as he threw hard.
Blyleven learned to throw his famous curveball thanks to legendary pitcher Sandy Koufax, who explained not to throw a curveball before being 13 years old in a radio-interview.
Blyleven also thanked his parents (his father passed away in 2004), stating ''I learned my Dutch stubborness from my parents, never give up''.
Blyleven told several amusing anecdotes, like the one regarding the start of his big league-career on June 5, 1970.
Blyleven mentioned the conversation he had with his catcher George Mitterwald, who asked for a pitch through the middle with Lee May hitting on a full count.
May, the first batter Blyleven faced, drove the ball into the stands for a homerun.
But the Twins went on to win 2-1 and Blyleven was the winning pitcher.
When he called his parents about his Major League-debut and the win, Blyleven told that his father informed how Frank Howard did off him, as he was a big fan of the slugger.
When Blyleven proudly told his father that Howard was 0-for-3 and that he struck him out, he hung up on him.
Also inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday was General Manager Pat Gillick, who was elected in December 2010 by the Veterans Committee.
Gillick is the 32nd team executive to be elected into the Hall of Fame.
On Saturday, Dave Van Horne, who is broadcasting baseball for 43 years (first Montreal Expos and the last decade Florida Marlins) received baseball broadcasting's highest award when the Hall of Fame presented him with the Ford C. Frick Award, which is named after former Baseball Commissioner Ford C. Frick.
Also on Saturday, Bill Conlin received the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, which is presented annually for meritorious service in print baseball coverage.
Conlin covers the Philadelphia Phillies since 1966 for the Philadelphia Daily News.
81-year old pioneer Roland Hemond received the Buck O'Neill Lifetime Achievement Award, which was handed out for only the second time.
Hemond, who is active in baseball for 60 years, is currently a special assistant with the Arizona Diamondbacks and was the founder of the Arizona Fall League, as well of the Scouts Foundation.
He also was General Manager for 23 years with the Chicago White Sox and Baltimore Orioles.