Bert Blyleven had one of the greatest curveballs of all-time, but as Don Mattingly learned, Blyleven wasn't afraid to throw a fastball or two under a batter's chin.
With the Hall of Fame ceremony tomorrow in Cooperstown, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was asked about Bert Blyleven, who will be inducted Sunday along with Roberto Alomar and Pat Gillick. "I liked facing Bert. I hit him alright," Mattingly said, which may have been an understatement. In his career, Mattingly circled Bert to the tune of .409/.471/.682 with three home runs in 51 plate appearances.
Mattingly recalled August 12, 1984, his first game against Blyleven, who was then with the Indians. "I heard about Bert, but had never seen him before. The thing about Bert, you always talk about the curveball," Mattingly said. The Yankees had beaten Cleveland 11 straight times, and Blyleven started against the Yankees in Cleveland on a Sunday afternoon.
Mattingly was in his first full season, and would win a batting title in 1984, a season in which he hit .343/.381/.537 and led the league with 207 hits, 44 doubles, and a 156 OPS+.
"In my first at-bat, I hit a seed, a one-hopper for an out. The next time up, that first pitch he threw right under my chin and knocked me on my [rear]," Mattingly recalled. "He threw hard! I was surprised how hard he threw, he threw like 92-93. I'm thinking, 'Alright, I'm going to bust him,' but the next pitch was another one up and in. I knew he was serious." Mattingly took his base after getting hit by a pitch, but that was one of just six baserunners that day against Blyleven, who outdueled Ron Guidry. It was the 188th career win and 45th career shutout for Blyleven, who finished his Hall of Fame career with 287 wins and 60 shutouts.
Game Time: 7:10 p.m.
TV: Prime Ticket