Has there ever been a more appropriate background for a baseball card than the one we see on the 1993 Topps Bert Blyleven?

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Here we see the 41-year-old future Hall of Famer sparkling in the 1992 sunshine as he pitches out of the black maw of some unknown snarling beast behind him.

Was that blackness the rotator cuff injury that had cut short his 1990 season and wiped out his 1991 campaign?

Was it the gaping jaws of father time, who swallows us all eventually, but whom Blyleven had managed to avoid for one more summer as he worked his way back to the California Angels in ‘92?

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Or, was it the uncertainty of Blyleven’s Cooperstown case, one that seemed impossible for all but the hardest-core statheads to argue when the Frying Dutchman hung up his spikes after that 1992 season?

Any seem as likely or unlikely as the rest, the same swirl of the undecided and the unknowable that circles around nearly every career ending, every transition, every big decision.

Truth is, though, while Blyleven may have thought he was done as his contract with the Halos expired in November of ‘92, the sunlight of hope found him again two months later when he signed on with the Minnesota Twins to give it another go.

Spring Training of 1993 didn’t work out so well, though, and his third stint with his original team ended without another major league appearance.

That summer, while collectors were pulling this career-capper from Topps wax packs, Blyleven pitched for the MLB All-Stars in the World Port Tournament in his birth country of the Netherlands.

And before long, Blyleven would embark on a broadcasting career — with the Twins — that would span nearly a quarter century.

Then, in 2011, and in his 14th year on the ballot, Blyleven broke through the writers’ vote and gained election to the Hall of Fame.

The perspective of time …

The snowballing appreciation for his curveball, his longevity, his Sabermetrics excellence …

His growing and now-solid legend as a broadcaster …

In the end, it all rendered that gaping maw on Blyleven’s final Topps cad nothing more than a blotting out of background noise and a clutter-free canvas from which the crystal-clear image of his stellar career could emerge one last time.

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Nearly a decade before the denouement of his storied career, Blyleven helped liven up one of Donruss’ most innovative sets ever. Check out our rundown of the Be-Home’s 1984 Donruss Champions card over on YouTube.

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