Bert Blyleven

One curve I’ll always remember was when I was pitching for Pittsburgh. Terry Kennedy was a young player with St. Louis. I threw him an 0-2 curve and it snapped. Terry’s reaction was to swing straight down, like he was chopping the plate with an axe. It was the last out of the inning. After I ran off the mound, I looked over at the St. Louis dugout. There were players rolling around on the floor, laughing. Poor Terry. I’ll have to admit that was a hell of a curveball.

The 16 years have gone so fast. I came to Minnesota as a 19-year-old kid. Marv Grissom was the pitching coach, an old-timer who taught me quite a bit. Marv didn’t like the way I stepped toward the plate. I had a tendency to throw across my body. So, he took me off to the side at Met Stadium and put a chair on the mound. If I threw across my body, I would step on the chair. Marv was trying to hurt me. I fooled him. I started stepping the right way.

It enrages me to see only certain players singled out for the Hall of Fame because they were born with a God-given specialty. When I take my kids to the Baseball Hall of Fame, I want them to experience the full array of talents that make the game what it is today, not just the larger-than-life freaks of nature. I want them to know that you don’t have to be the biggest or the strongest to reach your goals, and that hard work and perseverance are also rewarded.