Today’s quick card of the day features a young right handed pitcher named Rik Aalbert Blyleven, commonly referred to as Bert. Most of you who read this blog know that Bert Blyleven is one of my favorite pitchers of all time and I truly believe that he belongs in the Hall of Fame. I WILL make a case for him and his due enshrinement soon and I will probably post several cards of him before the 2010 season begins. For now, the card of the day is from the 1972 Topps set, card # 515 of Bert Blyleven. BB’s rookie card is number 26 in the ’71 set-this is his second year card, but is one of my favorites. Blyleven had signed onto the Twins organization at age 18 and split his first pro season between rookie ball and at Orlando of the Florida State League. He did so well (7-2 combined) that he skipped AA ball all together and went to AAA. Bert began the 1970 season with the Evansville Triplets of the American Association as a 19 year-old, but after a hot start with them (4-2, 2.50 ERA, 63 Ks in 54 innings) he was promoted from being a Triplet to a Twin. He would start 25 games for Minnesota that year and posted a 10-9 record with a 3.18 ERA. The Twins would win their division and Blyleven saw postseason action before he saw his 20th birthday. His appearance was short-he pitched 2 innings in relief in a losing effort against Baltimore in the ALCS, but his two inning debut was a success. He struck out 2 and didn’t allow an earned run. In 1971, Blyleven’s first full year in the bigs, went even better. He logged 278 innings pitched (9th), completed 17 games (8th), pitched 5 shutouts (5th) while winning 16 games. His most impressive statistic was his 224 strikeouts (4th). He showed a remarkable curveball early on which set up his fastball even more dramatically. Of course Blyleven would go on and pitch for a total of 22 seasons with 5 different ball clubs, but this is where it all began-with the Twins in the early ‘70’s. Here is what the back of the card has to say about Bert Blyleven:
“As a rookie with the Twins in 1970, Bert became the 25th teenager in the history of baseball to ever win as many as 10 games in a season. He was named as the Sporting News American League Rookie Pitcher of the Year and was 12th in the AL in ERA (3.18). In his first big league start at Washington, 6-5-70, Bert gave up (a) homer to (the) 1st man he faced, Lee Maye, but proceeded to hurl shut out ball and won game, 2-1.”
A rookie, teenager pitcher who can pitch 9 innings of shutout ball after giving up a leadoff homerun is pretty remarkable, but that was Bert Blyleven. Stayed tuned for Bert Blyleven “Cards of the Day” and a case for BB to go to Cooperstown. He earned 63% of the vote last year-2010 just might be his year! I love this game, I love this hobby! Troll out.