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01/28/11 12:03 AM EST
Twins to immortalize Blyleven by retiring No. 28
Newest Hall of Fame pitcher will be honored during July ceremony
By Kelly Thesier / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- Bert Blyleven's No. 28 will never be worn by a Twins player again. The Twins announced Thursday night during their annual Diamond Awards that they will retire Blyleven's uniform number to honor the pitcher who will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on July 24. No. 28, which Blyleven wore for all 11 seasons he spent with the Twins, will be retired during a pregame celebration on July 16 at Target Field when the Twins host the Royals as part of Bert Blyleven Day. "2011 is going to be a special year for the Blyleven family, the Twins organization and millions of fans across Twins Territory," Twins CEO Jim Pohlad said in a statement. "As excitement builds for Bert's induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the Twins organization is proud to bestow our highest honor with the retirement of his jersey -- No. 28. Bert Blyleven Day is aimed at celebrating Bert's incredible contributions on and off the field, while also providing he and his family a proper send-off to Cooperstown." Blyleven, 59, becomes the sixth Twins player to have his number retired by the organization, joining Harmon Killebrew (No. 3 in 1975), Rod Carew (No. 29 in 1987), Tony Oliva (No. 6 in 1991), Kent Hrbek (No. 14 in 1995) and Kirby Puckett (No. 34 in 1997). The Twins also retired Jackie Robinson's No. 42 in 1997, along with the rest of baseball. "It's an honor to think that my number is going to be retired with the likes of Rod Carew, Tony Oliva, Kent Hrbek, Kirby Puckett, Harmon Killebrew and of course Jackie Robinson up there," Blyleven said. "It's an honor. Thank you very much -- that means a lot to myself, my wife Gayle and the Blyleven family." In a career that spanned from 1970-92 for the Twins, Rangers, Pirates, Indians and Angels, Blyleven accumulated impressive numbers that rank near the top of almost every pitching category on baseball's all-time list -- including 287 wins, good for 27th in history. Blyleven stands fifth in career strikeouts (3,701), 11th in games started (685), 13th in innings pitched (4,970) and ninth in shutouts (60). While Blyleven pitched for five different teams over the course of his 22-year career, there is no question that he's most strongly associated with the Twins -- having pitched for the club in two separate stints (1970-76, 1985-88). After the Twins used a third-round Draft choice on him in 1969, Blyleven made his debut for Minnesota at the age of 19 the following year. He won 10 games that year for a team that included Killebrew, Carew, Oliva and Jim Kaat. He was traded during the '76 season, but Blyleven helped lead the Twins to their first World Series title during his second stay with the team in 1987. Blyleven holds the Twins' franchise record in complete games (141), shutouts (29) and strikeouts (2,035). He is second on the club's all-time list in wins (149) and innings pitched (2,566 2/3), third in starts (345) and fifth in ERA (3.28). Having served as one of the club's television broadcasters since 1995, Blyleven has cemented himself among the most beloved figures within the Twins' organization.