Vida Blue was an outstanding pitcher who led the Oakland Athletics to three consecutive World Series titles in the 1970s and won the AL MVP and Cy Young awards in 1971. He died on May 6, 2023, at the age of 73, leaving behind a legacy of brilliance and charisma on and off the field.
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Early Life and Career
Blue was born on July 28, 1949, in Mansfield, Louisiana, where he was a star in both baseball and football as a high school student. He was drafted by the then-Kansas City Athletics in 1967 and chose to pursue a professional baseball career instead of attending college.
He made his major league debut in 1969, after the Athletics moved to Oakland, and threw a no-hitter against the Minnesota Twins in 1970.
Breakout Season and Dynasty Years
Blue had his best season in 1971, when he had a 24-8 record with a league-leading 1.82 ERA and 301 strikeouts. He became the first pitcher to win both the MVP and Cy Young awards in the same season since Sandy Koufax in 1963 in his life.
He also started the All-Star Game for the AL and finished third in the voting for the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year award.
Blue was a crucial member of the Oakland Athletics dynasty that won three straight World Series championships from 1972 to 1974, along with other stars such as Reggie Jackson, Catfish Hunter, Rollie Fingers, and Sal Bando. He won 20 games in both 1973 and 1975 and made four more All-Star appearances as an Athletic.
He also pitched a combined no-hitter with Glenn Abbott, Paul Lindblad, and Fingers on September 28, 1975.
Later Career and Retirement
Blue was traded to the San Francisco Giants in 1978, where he became the first pitcher to start the All-Star Game for both leagues. He won 18 games for the Giants in 1980 and led the NL with a 2.79 ERA in 1981.
He also played for the Kansas City Royals from 1982 to 1983 before returning to the Giants for his final two seasons. He retired after the 1986 season with a career record of 209-161, a 3.27 ERA, and 2,175 strikeouts.
Blue was inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame in 2011 and the Giants Wall of Fame in 2014.
He was also involved in various charitable causes and community events after his retirement. He was married twice and had four children.
My Point of View
Vida Blue was one of my idols growing up. I admired his talent, his passion, and his personality. He was a strong competitor on the mound, but also a friendly and generous person off it. He had a great sense of humor and a charismatic smile that could cheer up any room.
He was a role model for many young fans and aspiring athletes. He will be greatly missed by his family, friends, teammates, and fans.