Pitcher will be eligible again on next year's ballot
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- Fans and supporters of former pitcher Bert Blyleven continue to wonder why he is not in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
No one is more puzzled than Bert Blyleven himself.
On Tuesday, the right-hander with 3,701 strikeouts and 287 wins failed for the seventh time to garner enough votes for induction to the Hall in Cooperstown.
Kaat misses mark
In results released Tuesday, former pitcher Jim Kaat finished 11th in voting by the Baseball Writers Association of America. He received 130 votes or 26.2 percent of the ballots cast. Inductees need a minimum of 75 percent of the vote.
This was Kaat's 15th and final time for eligibility on the writer's ballot. He can still get into the Hall on a vote by the Veteran's Committee beginning in 2005.
Kaat pitched in the Major Leagues from 1959-1983 and went 283-237 with a 3.45 ERA in 4,530 innings. He also earned 16 consecutive Gold Glove Awards.
Kaat played for the Senators and Twins organization until 1973 before playing for the White Sox, Phillies, Yankees and Cardinals. He won a career-best 25 games with Minnesota in 1966 and was a three-time All-Star.
-- Mark Sheldon
Of the 496 ballots cast by the Baseball Writers Association of America, 372 votes or 75 percent was needed for induction. Blyleven finished ninth, receiving 145 votes or 29.2 percent. He ended up ninth last year too, but had just 26 percent of votes in 2002.
"It's a slow process," an upbeat Blyleven said from his home in Florida. "Hopefully, one day it will happen. I was hoping for at least 40 percent."
Writers named Eddie Murray and Gary Carter as the two newest members of the Hall. They will be inducted during ceremonies July 27 at Cooperstown, N.Y.
Blyleven was well known for having one of the game's nastiest curveballs during his 23-year Major League career that spanned from 1970-92. He pitched 11 seasons in two separate tours with the Minnesota Twins and was also with the Rangers, Pirates, Indians and Angels, winning World Series rings at Pittsburgh in 1979 and Minnesota in 1987. While with Texas in 1977, he tossed a no-hitter.
The low vote totals from writers are curious when looking at some of Blyleven's statistics. He is fifth on the all-time strikeout list behind Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton, Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson. Ryan and Carlton are in the Hall along with many pitchers who rank right behind Blyleven in K's like Tom Seaver, Don Sutton, Gaylord Perry, Walter Johnson, Phil Niekro, Fergie Jenkins, Bob Gibson and Jim Bunning.
"I don't know what's holding me back," said the 51-year-old Blyleven, who has been a Twins broadcaster for the past seven seasons. "The numbers speak for themselves where I rank among the all-time pitchers."
Blyleven ranks ninth in games started (685) and shutouts (60), 13th in innings (4,970) and 24th in wins (287). His name returned to the forefront over the past two seasons when Clemens and Johnson passed him on the strikeout list and Clemens surpassed him in wins.
"You have to wonder sometimes what the writers are looking at," he said. "It's frustrating at times not getting the recognition. I'd love to sit down with some of the writers and find out why I don't receive the votes."
Possibly working against him was a high loss total (250) compared to wins and several seasons with mediocre teams. He had only one 20-win season and was named just twice to All-Star teams. He also ranks seventh in home runs allowed (430). But, five of the six people ahead of him on that list are also in the Hall.
As long as he receives the five percent minimum of votes in future elections, Blyleven still has eight more years of eligibility on the Hall of Fame ballot. But it's important to him that his parents are around to enjoy the moment with him if he's elected.
Sunday, July 27
Cooperstown, New York
"My (76-year-old) father has Parkinson's. His health is not doing well," said Blyleven, who is a native of Holland. "He might miss out on this."
Blyleven said Hall of Famers like Perry and former teammate Harmon Killebrew have told him that his time will eventually come.
"That is very rewarding because those are my peers," he said. "I look at Ferguson Jenkins, Catfish Hunter and other guys that got in. It took a while for them. I guess patience is the word."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com and can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. This report was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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