The paths of Bert Blyleven and left-hander Jim Kaat crossed briefly in the early 1970s, and their records are nearly identical.
Blyleven, who was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday, was 287-250 in a 22-year major league career, while Kaat was 283-237 in 25 seasons. Blyleven is the first Dutch-born player elected and a big supporter of Kaat, whose grandparents were born in the Netherlands.
Blyleven credits his heritage with giving him the stubbornness that led to his longevity in the big leagues and eventual selection on his 14th try.
“You ain’t much if you ain’t Dutch,” the 72-year-old Kaat, a native of Zeeland, Mich., joked before Sunday’s ceremony. “I never thought about that. I was just blessed with a good arm and had good work ethics when I was a kid.”
Blyleven has mentioned Kaat as a mentor, but Kaat said he didn’t remember giving much advice.
“I think the only thing I can even remember helping him with was every time he started a game he’d get ready so fast – it seemed like in 8-10 minutes he’d be ready to go,” Kaat recalled. “So I’d say, ‘Whoa! Take a little more time between pitches, particularly on a hot day.’ I figure if you have a long first inning, boy that could wear you down. But he didn’t need a lot of help. You just needed to stay out of his way.”
Wakefield reaches 2,000 K’s with Boston
Tim Wakefield has joined Roger Clemens as the only pitchers with 2,000 strikeouts for the Boston Red Sox.
The 44-year-old knuckleballer reached the milestone on Sunday when he struck out Mike Carp on a foul tip to end the top of the sixth inning against the Seattle Mariners. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia then trotted to meet Wakefield and gave him the ball.
Wakefield received a standing ovation and tipped his hat to the crowd as he walked to the dugout. The applause continued and Wakefield emerged and tipped his hat again.
Clemens had 2,590 strikeouts with Boston. The strikeout of Carp gave Wakefield 2,110 for his career, including 110 in two seasons with Pittsburgh.
Around the bases
Braves third baseman Chipper Jones could come off the disabled list for the start of a series today against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Jones had surgery on July 9 to fix torn cartilage in his right knee. He began a rehab assignment with Atlanta’s Class A Rome team on Saturday night. … Cincinnati Reds rookie shortstop Zack Cozart was placed on the 15-day disabled list after he sprained his left elbow while trying to make a tag at second base.