Hall-of-Fame starter Bert Blyleven, who my dad always liked to call, Bert “be home by eleven,” led the league in losses in 1988 with the Minnesota Twins. The right-hander was 37-years-old that season, having already built a legendary career, but it seemed like Father time had finally caught up to him.
Blyleven was 10-17 in 1988 with a bloated 5.43 ERA over 33 starts. He allowed the most earned runs in baseball, and hit 16 batters, also a league high. The only reason he was allowed to pitch so many innings was because of the name on the back of his jersey.
So when the Angels acquired him in the offseason for three minor leaguers (most notably, Paul Sorrento), it was thought to be a trade to bring the Dutch pitcher back home to end his career in a familiar setting.
Little did anyone know at the time, he had one more great season left in his arm.
Blyleven put together a miraculous comeback season in 1989. He went 17-5 as a 38-year-old; his ERA, which hadn’t dropped below four runs in three years, finished at 2.73. He led the American League with five shutouts, and finished fourth in Cy Young voting.
The Villa Park resident was named American League Comeback Player of the Year.
Unfortunately, the magic would end after that 1989 season, but Angels fans will never forget the Orange County resurgence of Bert Blyleven.