Circled by Bert

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 16, 2003

There was nothing especially flashy or fancy about the sign.

But it caught the attention of the guy who mattered most.

By the end of the afternoon, Levi Hanson spent time in the broadcast booth at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome and got to hang out with someone who just happens to own two World Series rings &045; Bert Blyleven.

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It was a birthday present 8-year-old Levi will never forget.

It all started when Levi’s grandparents, Kathi and Dave Hanson of Albert Lea, decided to take Levi and his parents, Erin and Greg, to watch the Twins play the Cleveland Indians July 6, four days before Levi’s 8th birthday.

As they’ve done before, Levi and his mom prepared a &uot;Circle Me Bert&uot; sign in hopes of being shown on television and &uot;circled&uot; by Blyleven, the Twins’ color commentator.

The family still doesn’t know if Levi was officially &uot;circled,&uot; but Blyleven undoubtedly saw the sign, which also included the words, &uot;It’s my birthday.&uot;

At the end of the seventh inning, a member of the Twins’ staff approached the Hansons.

&uot;He said, ‘Bert saw your sign and he wants to meet you,’&uot; recalled Kathi Hanson. &uot;I thought, ‘Yeah right.’ Nobody could believe it. But it was real.&uot;

Levi was told to be at the press box 10 minutes after the game ended. He was joined by his dad and grandpa. Blyleven autographed Levi’s sign and posed for a picture with Levi and the sign.

&uot;We thought it was a once-in-a-lifetime thing,&uot; said Kathi Hanson. &uot;He’ll remember that forever.&uot;

And it wasn’t the only memorable part.

It was also Bat Day at the Metrodome, and Levi also came home with a foul ball.

&uot;His dad told him, ‘Levi, I’ve been to so many games and never gotten a ball,’&uot; said Kathi Hanson.

But the biggest impact was made by Blyleven, who won World Series rings with the Pittsburgh Pirates and the 1987 Twins.

&uot;Bert was very, very nice,&uot; said Kathi Hanson. &uot;He showed them his World Series ring and asked who they all were in relation to Levi. We’re going to send him a thank you note. That he would take the time to do that with these youngsters is really a good thing.&uot;

(Contact Jim Lutgens at or 379-3437.)