Bert Blyleven was famous for his curveball during a 22-year career in the major leagues, but there is nothing deceptive about his latest pitch. The baseball Hall of Famer is auctioning items on eBay, with some of the proceeds going to his favorite charities.
The most expensive item for sale — and it would be the most coveted — is a Hall of Fame bat Blyleven received when he was inducted at Cooperstown, New York, on July 22, 2012. The bat is signed by 38 members of the Hall of Fame who were present that day.
More of my baseball collection on EBay now by going to seller rb957. Part of all proceeds will be donated to different charities we support. How about a 2012 HOF autographed bat and more. These are rare and seldom come up for auction. God Bless and stay safe. 🙏 pic.twitter.com/vvUCvo9Pev
— Bert Blyleven (@BertBlyleven28) February 16, 2021
Another item is a 1998 autographed print of the 11 pitchers who had struck out 3,000 or more batters. The only autograph missing from the 36-inch by 30-inch print is that of Walter Johnson, who had been long dead by the time the artist created the work. Roger Clemens had just crossed the 3,000 threshold when the artwork was created.
Blyleven made his MLB debut as a 19-year-old in 1970 and a team-signed baseball–with Harmon Killebrew on the sweetspot–is also up for grabs.
Blyleven, 69, is selling the items through eBay member Rick Bruce, who runs the former pitcher’s fan store.
“Part of all proceeds will be donated to different charities we support,” Blyleven tweeted.
Blyleven is the first of 11 major leaguers born in the Netherlands to reach the Hall of Fame. Other major leaguers from the Netherlands who preceded him were John Houseman in 1894, Joe Otten in 1895, and brothers Jack and Bill Lelivelt in 1909. Before Blyleven, only Jack Lelivelt played more than two seasons in the majors.
Blyleven was born Rik Aalbert Blijleven in Zeist, on April 6, 1951, and his family emigrated to Saskatoon, Canada, three years later. The family settled in Garden Grove, California, in 1957, where they anglicized their surname and young Bert began playing baseball when he was 9.
While he played for five major league teams during his career, Blyleven has been associated with the Twins. His Hall of Fame plaque depicts Blyleven with a Twins cap, and he named color commentator for Twins broadcasts in 1996. He teamed with play-by-play announcer Dick Bremer and was famous for circling fans in the stands with his telestrator pen, a move that gave birth to “Circle Me Bert” signs at the ballpark beginning in 2002. Blyleven also worked in the booth with fellow former pitcher Tommy John (who won 288 games, one more than Bert) and Ryan Lefebvre.
Blyleven announced his retirement from the booth in September 2000.
During that time, Blyleven was named to the Twins 40th season All-Anniversary team in 2000, was elected to the Twins Hall of Fame in 2002 and had his No. 28 retired by the club in 2011. He also served as pitching coach for the Dutch national baseball team in 2009 and 2013 in the World Baseball Classic.
The pinnacle came in 2011, when Blyleven was elected to the Hall of Fame in his 14th year of eligibility, garnering 79.7% of the vote. He had 287 wins, 3,701 strikeouts and 60 shutouts during his career. He also won World Series rings with the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates and the 1987 Twins.
Blyleven had two different types of curves — a roundhouse and an overhand drop. Both were tough to hit because Blyleven gripped both pitches like a fastball.
“(His curveball) was nasty, I’ll tell you that,” Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson once said. “Enough to make your knees buckle. Bert was a terrific pitcher — a dominating pitcher.”
The items Blyleven are selling span the length of his storied career. Some were before he debuted with the Twins in 1970, like a 1965 Twins World Series Red Wing pottery ashtray.
From his career, there is an autographed photograph of Blyleven celebrating his 3,000th career strikeout on Aug. 1, 1986. Blyleven fanned Mike Davis of the Oakland Athletics for the second out of the fifth inning at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. There is also an autographed bat from the 1973 All-Star Game, which was played in Kansas City. Blyleven did not bat in the game—he was the losing pitcher as the National League won 7-1 — but he signed the lumber.
And there is a nice variety of “Circle Me Bert” shirts, too, some of them autographed.