The best of the three speeches from the class of 2011's Hall of Fame induction ceremony came from the player who waited the longest to hear the Hall's call: Bert Blyleven's funny speech had the Hall of Fame induction crowd laughing throughout.
Blyleven's video tribute was delivered by Jim Kaat, who talked about Blyleven's wicked curveball and skill at pulling pranks such as hotfooting his teammates.
Blyleven's speech was the day's liveliest: "First of all, you are all hereby circled," he began, referencing the "Circle me, Bert" signs that fans have brought to Minnesota Twins games, hoping that color commentator Blyleven would show them a little love with the telestrator. He also dropped an "Are we live?" to reference his infamous and accidental expletives during a live broadcast in 2006.
But the heart of Blyleven's speech were stories about him being called up to the big leagues. After being asked by his manager to greet all of his teammates, Blyleven explained, he spent a night trying to catch up with all of them before returning to report on his findings, and complaining that, by 3 a.m., "They weren't in yet!" And Blyleven explained that in his first game, after giving up a home run to his first major league batter, his manager, Bill Rigney, consoled him with sage advice: "That's not the last home run you're going to give up."
"I've been very fortunate in my life to play a kids' game for 22 seasons," Blyleven said, expressing his appreciation to the Twins for keeping him around "the game I love." "I am very thankful for this honor," he finished, bringing things full circle appropriately: "And you are all, hereby, circled."