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Twins to retire Blyleven’s number on Saturday

July 15, 2011

 MINNEAPOLIS — Even with two World Series titles to his credit, Bert Blyleven considers being inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame to be the highlight of his career.

“It’s the ultimate,” Blyleven said on a conference call Friday. “You’re in a fraternity that is so small and so nationally recognized. All of a sudden … ‘Bert Blyleven, Major League pitcher,’ [turns into] ‘Bert Blyleven, Hall of Fame Major League pitcher.’

“It’s incredible.”

Before he’s inducted on July 24 alongside Roberto Alomar and Pat Gillick, the Twins will retire Blyleven’s No. 28 during a ceremony Saturday before their game against the Royals at Target Field.

His number will sit between No. 42 for Jackie Robinson and Kirby Puckett’s No. 34.

“Target Field’s going to be here a long time,” Blyleven said. “Somewhere down the line, 50 years from now when I’m gone, some young kid will go to the ballpark and say, ‘Who was No. 28?’

“Hopefully their father or grandfather will explain who I was and what I did. It becomes almost unbelievable.”

Saturday’s ceremony, which will be emceed by Twins announcers Dick Bremer and John Gordon, will include Rod Carew, Kent Hrbek and Tony Oliva. A special presentation to Blyleven will be made by The Netherlands. The ceremony will also feature a video tribute as well as special presentations by Twins ownership and current team members.

“I’m extremely excited about that,” said Michael Cuddyer, whose locker sits under the No. 28 that has been added in the Twins clubhouse. “He’s a fixture in this organization, obviously as a player and now as a broadcaster. He definitely, 100 percent, deserves that recognition and that honor.”

Special logos honoring Blyleven will be placed on the field behind the pitcher’s mound and along the foul lines. He will also throw out a ceremonial first pitch to former Twins catcher George Mitterwald, Blyleven’s first catcher in the Major Leagues.

The pregame ceremony will begin shortly after 6 p.m. CT.

The club will give away vouchers for Blyleven baseballs, with instructions on how to throw his curve ball, to the first 20,000 fans. The vouchers may be redeemed for the  ball — limited to one per person — starting in the middle of the seventh inning outside all gates at Target Field and at the Main Box Office through July 24.

The Twins have also retired the numbers for Harmon Killebrew (3), Carew (29), Oliva (6), Hrbek (14), Puckett (34) and Robinson (42).

Left-handed reliever Glen Perkins, a Minnesota native, said that while he was too young to remember Blyleven playing for the Twins — Perkins was only four years old in 1987 — he always knew Blyleven was one of the best pitchers in franchise history.

Since Perkins made his debut with the club in 2006, he’s gotten the chance to know Blyleven on a more personal level.

“He’s a great guy, he’s awesome,” Perkins said. “He’s fun because he’s still kind of got the player mentality. If you ask him questions, he’ll answer them, but he’s not a guy that preaches on you. He’s a great guy to have around. He’s a lot of fun and it’s just another great resource if you need it.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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