The former Major League starting pitcher Bert Blyleven was named pitching coach for the Netherlands Baseball National team at the 2009 World Baseball Classic on Thursday. The 57-year-old was born in Zeist, Netherlands, but grew up in Canada and the United States. The technical director of the Royal Netherland Baseball and Softball Federation (KNBSB) Robert Eenhoorn is pleased that Blyleven accepted the offer to join the coaching of new head coach Rod Delmonico. “It is fantastic that a man with his background is found willing to participate.”
Blyleven was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the third round of the 1969 amateur draft and made his big league debut just one year later at the age of 19. He went on to play in a total of 692 games (685 starts) over 22 seasons with the Twins, the Rangers, Pirates, Indians and Angels. After taking 1991 taking off, he came back for a last season in 1992 and pitched his last game on October 4th that year.
He finished with a 287-250 record with an ERA of 3.31 and 3701 strikeouts in 4970 innings. He is ranked fifth all-time in strikeouts behind Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens and Steve Carlton and is ninth with 60 shutouts. He won the World Series with Pittsburgh (1979) and Minnesota (1987). Blyleven pitched a no-hitter in 1977 against the California Angels. He is a former All-Star and ranked third in the Cy Young Award voting twice.
After his official retirement in the MLB he made one playing appearance in his birth country, when he was part of a Major League Baseball International team in 1993 at the World Port Tournament in Rotterdam. In 1995 he began his second career as a broadcaster for the Twins organization, which he is still doing. He is also entering his 12th year on the Hall of Fame Ballot, missing Cooperstown last year with 61.9 percent shortly (candidates need 75 percent to get in).
The Netherlands is playing in Pool D at the World Baseball Classic next March in San Juan against Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Panama. In preparation for the tournament they are playing against two former Major League teams from Blyleven. They are facing the Pittsburgh Pirates on March 3rd and the Minnesota Twins on March 5th.