COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Many teammates approached Bert Blyleven over the years inquiring how to throw such a nasty curveball. One of the best stories emerged in Cleveland, with a man who preceded Blyleven into the Hall of Fame: Gaylord Perry.
Oh, what might have been.
"I was curious to see how he threw his spitter, and he was curious to see how I held my curveball," Blyleven recalls. "So between starts, one time during his side piece, we talked about the curveball grip. He picked it up pretty quick, and he took it into the game.
"Of course, in my next side piece, he showed me the spitter. And the ball was tumbling. I'm loading up, right? On the side. And Gaylord did all that stuff [with his hand movements and motions] on the mound. I wasn't that way. I worked very quickly. I always pictured Bob Gibson, and the way he worked.
"So I was having fun with it, doing all these things. And the next day, my elbow was barking after my bullpen session. I thought I can't do that.
"I asked Gaylord, told him, 'You've got to be strong to throw that pitch. My elbow's barking.' He said 'Come work with me during the winter on my peanut farm, I'll show you what work's all about.' Gaylord was just an animal, a strong individual."