Rik Aalbert Blijleven, (born April 6, 1951, in Zeist, the Netherlands), had a Hall of Fame career as a starting pitcher but currently serves in a far more entertaining capacity as the color commentator for the Minnesota Twins. I think off-color commentator would be more fitting, but there’s no denying he adds more than a little color to Twins broadcasts!Let’s get his impressive numbers out of the way, then we can get on with the more amusing stuff. Known for his strikeouts, Blyleven recorded 3,701 Ks (fifth on the all-time list) in his great career, to go with a 287-250 record and a 3.31 ERA. The 2 time World Series champion was deservingly inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2011.
Now, onto the good stuff. A bit of a prankster during his playing days, Blyleven was given the moniker the “Frying Dutchman” due to his propensity to set his teammates’ shoelaces on fire (an old dugout standby known as the “hot foot”). According to some sources, during Blyleven’s days with the Angels, the fire extinguisher in the Angels’ clubhouse had a sign that read: “In case of Blyleven: Pull.”
Blyleven is now known as one of baseball’s more entertaining, yet controversial, commentators due to his penchant for saying off-color remarks (including using the F word numerous times in a pre-game segment, thinking that the camera was off). The incident prompted the Twins’ television network to suspend Bert for 5 games. During this stretch, fans were spotted holding “Free Bert” signs at the ballpark. You know why? Because Bert Blyleven is awesome.
His most awesome trait is his trademark of circling fans in the audience with his telestrator. Fans at home and road games alike hold up signs saying “Circle Me Bert” in an effort to get noticed by Bert and his magic telestrator. The amusing gimmick has even helped out a worthwhile cause, as Blyleven started a website which features Circle Me Bert memorabilia and apparel. A portion of the proceeds are given directly to the National Parkinson Foundation Minnesota.
Way to go, Bert!