Bert Blyleven, the most deserving Hall of Fame candidate still on the outside looking in, has been voted the "Greatest Dutch Sportsman" in a media ballot conducted by New York City's historic Grand Central Oyster Bar. Blyleven, a native of Zeist, The Netherlands, outpolled his two nearest competitors by a 2-1 margin in a survey of national sports media.
Jim Kaat and MMA performer Bas Rutten finished tied for second place.
I don't have a vote for Cooperstown, but I did have a vote in this one, and Bert was my pick. Blyleven spent 22 seasons in the big leagues, with 287 wins, of which 60 - more than 20 percent - were shutouts. He topped 3,700 strikeouts, and finished just 30 innings shy of 5,000. He should've gone into Cooperstown years ago.
The "Greatest" promotion was in conjunction with the annual Holland Herring Festival at the Manhattan seafood landmark, and a Heineken Salute to Dutch Sportsmen. Dutch herring from the Netherlands is flown to New York for a two week period at the Oyster Bar. Bert's order is presumably on the house.
I was at Blyleven's first big league start for the Twins, against the Senators at RFK Stadium on June 5, 1970. He was 19 and gave up a solo home run to Lee Maye leading off the bottom of the first. He won the game 2-1.
Hopefully, Blyleven's wait for Cooperstown ends in 2011.