Circle Me, Aalbert

25 Jul

Yesterday, after much to do here in Minnesota, Bert Blyleven was finally inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.  After 22 years in the majors and a popular 15 year run as a color commentator Minnesota Twins, his place in baseball has been officially recognized by the peeps in Cooperstown.  I’ve yet to be circled by Bert and I haven’t yet tried his signature burger at Wendy’s but I have researched him.  When reading about Bert I found good reason to include him in a travel blog about Europe and this time I’m not even going to have to get creative with my rationalizations.  Bert is Dutch.

In fact, he’s the first Dutch person to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.  He was known as the Frying Dutchman by some of his team mates because he’d set fire to their shoe laces.  A fire extinguisher in the dugout read “in case of Blyleven, pull”. 

Though born in the Netherlands, Blyleven’s family moved to Canada when he was two and then California when he was five.  I found this tidbit in the Star Tribune about Bert’s last name. “In Holland, it’s ‘Bly-LA-ven,’ ” he said. “Which means, ‘Happy life.'”.  The spelling was originally Blijlaven but Canadian officials changed it at the border.  They didn’t touch his first two names though, Rik Aalbert.  Bert changed those all by himself and I’m willing to be he still thinks it’s a happy life.

Apparently, despite all the great baseball players not from the States, there aren’t that many foreign-born players in the Hall of Fame… yet.  Bert is joined by Roberto Alomar (Puerto Rico), Roberto Clemente (Puerto Rico), Juan Marichal (Dominican Republic), Luis Aparicio (Venezuela), Rod Carew (Panama), Ferguson Jenkins (Canada), Orlando Cepeda (Puerto Rico) and Tony Perez (Cuba).  And if you’re wondering, Puerto Rico is a territory of the US but they participate as a foreign country in the Olympics and the World Baseball Classic, so we’re counting ’em.  And speaking of the World Baseball Classic…

Bert continued work in baseball by coaching the World Baseball Classic team from the Netherlands in 2009.  This was only the second of two tournaments since the classic started with the first being in 2006 and the third scheduled for 2013.  I’m guessing that’s because 2012 would put it right alongside the Olympics in London.  Anyhoo, Blyleven’s contribution to the Dutch team brought them from a non starter to a real contender.  Though they didn’t beat the Japanese they gave the Dominican team a run for their Dominican peso.

And that’s all that I have to say about that.  Congrats, Bert!

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