As a Detroit Tigers fan, I am finding it perplexing that I keep writing about things other than concerning the Motor City kiddies. Yet, here I go again. I write a note about Red Sox skipper Terry Francona and post my second "notes" section about someone from the Minnesota Twins organization. Oh well, both Francona and Bert Blyleven are definitely worthy of a little "Genz" penmanship.
Aberdeen, S.D., native Terry Francona has now won 1,000 games as a manager, becoming just the second Red Sox manager (Joe Cronin) to accomplish that feat. He reached the milestone with Boston's win over Seattle on Saturday. Francona was born in Aberdeen and moved with his family to Beaver County, PA. His father, John “Tito” Francona is a former major leaguer from 1956-70. Remember this Red Sox faithful, Francona served as the Tigers’ third-base coach in 1996 - not a great season in Detroit land. The Tigers finished 53-109, and in last place.
Francona is a former major league player for nine seasons with five teams. He hit .274 and finished with 474 hits. In 1997, he was named manager of the Philadelphia Phillies and then was fired in 2000. After serving as bench coach for Oakland and Texas, he was brought to Boston in 2004. He has directed the Red Sox to World Series titles in 2004 and 2007. Francona and Bill "Rough" Carrigan (1915, 1916) are the only two Red Sox managers to win two World Series titles.
Blyleven Deserving of Hall Recognition…Did you know that former Twins player Bert Blyleven is one of 10 foreign-born major leaguers to being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame? Blyleven is from The Netherlands.
Blyleven is obviously a deserving HOF enshrinee who showed off his humor and good-natured personality during his induction speech at Cooperstown on Sunday (July 24), televised by MLB Network. As noted by Matt Zimmer of the Argus Leader in a column on Monday, July 25, Blyleven is probably best known by those 35 years and younger for his TV work as a Twins color analyst.
The comical and easy going Blyleven is best known around the league for his color commentary for the Twins and his “Circle me Bert” promotion. Years ago, he was a major league pitcher for 22 seasons, finishing with 60 shutouts and 3,701 strikeouts, total that ranks him rank fifth all-time in baseball history. A two-time all-star, Blyleven pitched a no-hitter in 1977 and has had his number, #28, retired by the Twins. He won 287 games and lost 250 with a 3.31 ERA.
Blyelven, who was part of the Twins 1987 World Series championship team, was elected on the 14th HOF ballot after years of personal frustration for Bert and his fans. There are a lot of other “great” things that can be said about Blyleven but he is a class guy that deserved enshrinement.
He calls Dodger HOF pitcher Sandy Koufax, who some considered the best pitcher of all time, a great inspiration (with good reason). Yet, Blyleven had perhaps the greatest curveball of all time, yes, even better than Koufax. It is time that he was honored by baseball’s Hall. Orioles third baseman Brooks Robinson said that Blyleven had a “knee buckling curve” and the long wait for enshrinement was a bit knee buckling for Bert and all his fans. Good for you Bert – congratulations.