Bert Blyleven knows a thing or two about Pittsburgh. He especially knows about us, the Pittsburgh Pirates fans.
Blyleven was named to the Hall of Fame thanks in part to his outstanding work on the mound, but his work might not have been enough if not for a really smart man* that wouldn’t give up on getting Blyleven into Cooperstown.
Blyleven was a bad ass. A bad ass with a rubber arm. His time with the Pirates will always be marked by strikeouts, innings consumption, and his anger over wanting to pitch even more. He was pissed because he didn’t pitch enough. Let that soak in today.
And they traded a guy like that away? Let that soak in a little more.
He left the team early in the 1979 season because he was so pissed off about manager Chuck Tanner’s removing Pirates pitcher’s early in games-mainly him. The guy went AWOL for two weeks because he couldn’t pitch every fourth day.
So it seemed fitting that Blyleven pitched a complete game to propel the ‘We Are Family Bucs’ to the 1979 World Series. But the odds were against the Bucs in the World Series and it didn’t take long for the Buccos to get behind against the Baltimore Orioles.
In fact Chuck Tanner even said the team “couldn’t go anywhere but home, so we used Blyleven.”
Jim Rooker and Blyleven provided solid pitching and got the Pirates to game six. Tanner went with lefty John Candeleria in game six, but it was a testament to the spirit of Blyleven that he actually warmed up in the bullpen of that game. He wanted back on the mound. Yeh, the guy loved to pitch.
So from one of the most passionate players to ever pull on a black and yellow jersey, it was cool to read that Blyleven said this about all of us recently:
“I know how much the people in Pittsburgh love their Buccos. It hurts me to see what’s happened. It should have never reached this point and I’d like to see the ownership do something about it, spend some money and get good players.”—-Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven
Blyleven’s work has been enjoyed by many Pirates fans. But it’s not just Pittsburgh where he won a ring and of course, it won’t be a Pirates pill box cap on his head in Cooperstown. But Pittsburgh fans must never forget the guy with the hammer curve that would lock up the knees of batters on both sides of the plate. The guy with the fiery temper who was popping the catcher’s glove with a few hours rest back in ’79. He just wanted in the game.
In the game.
Now that Blyleven got his just reward, his story should no longer be a secret. Be certain to pass it along, the Hall of Fame just got a whole lot more bad ass.
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