"Hey, Mark," snapped Blyleven. "I was two when I left."
Blyleven, who hadn't pitched since he was cut by the Twins in spring training, looked as creaky as a 16th-century windmill. After surrendering a leadoff single, he hit the next batter with his first curve of the night. The third batter went down swinging. But the cleanup man, a first baseman the size of a Heineken barrel, poked a breaking ball over the rightfield fence. "I gave up more than 400 home runs in the United States," Blyleven said later. "I might as well give up one in Holland."
The dinger seemed to settle him. Blyleven began to paint the corners of the plate with Vermeer-like detail, yielding a lone walk on a questionable call ("Kill the scheidsrechter!" screamed a fan). Yet when he left the game after the second inning, hardly anybody in the stands seemed to notice.
Blyleven got offered tons of encouragement but no contract. "Oh, well," he said after the game ended in an 8-3 U.S. victory, "I got to play a kids' game for 22 years. Now comes the hard part: Growing up."