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Vida Blue

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Vida Blue

A photo of Vida Blue.

Vida Rochelle Blue Jr. (born July 28, 1949, in Mansfield, Louisiana) is a former Major League Baseball left-handed starting pitcher. In his 17-year career, he played for the Oakland Athletics, San Francisco Giants, and Kansas City Royals.

Baseball careerEdit

In 1970, after spending the season in the minor leagues with the Iowa Oaks of the American Association, Blue was called up in September and made two starts that provided a glimpse of what was to come for the 21-year old. On September 11, he shut out the Kansas City Royals 3-0, giving up only one hit, to Pat Kelly in the eighth inning. Ten days later, he no-hit the Minnesota Twins, 6-0, at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The lone baserunner came on Harmon Killebrew's fourth-inning walk. The no-hitter capped a season that witnessed four no-hitters.

Blue was a southpaw power pitcher. He possessed a breaking curveball that he threw on occasion and an above average change-up, but his signature pitch was a blistering fastball that dialed up to nearly 100 miles per hour.[1] Baseball historian Bill James cited Blue to be the hardest-throwing lefty, and the second hardest thrower of his era, finishing only behind Nolan Ryan.[2]

Blue had a 24-8 record in 1971, winning both the Cy Young and MVP awards, making him the next-to-the-last starting pitcher in major league baseball history to win an MVP award in either league. (Roger Clemens of the Boston Red Sox won it in 19860.)[3] He was the starting pitcher for the American League in the 1971 All-Star Game, and for the National League in the 1978 All-Star Game.

Blue won 20 games in 1973 as he led the Athletics to the World Championship that year.

In 1976, baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn vetoed an attempt to sell Blue to the New York Yankees and in 1977, Kuhn cancelled an attempted trade of Blue to the Cincinnati Reds. In both instances, Kuhn said the trades would be bad for baseball because they would have benefitted already powerful teams without making them give up any significant talent in return.

In 1978, Blue won 18 games as he led the Giants to 83 wins as they battled all year for the National League West Division which was won that year by the Los Angeles Dodgers. His great year was rewarded as he won the Sporting News National League Pitcher Of The Year. He was also the last player before Ichiro Suzuki to wear his given name on the back of his uniform instead of his surname, having done so with the Giants.

Blue battled drug addiction over the course of baseball career. After the 1983 season, he and former teammates, Willie Wilson, Jerry Martin and Willie Aikens, pleaded guilty to attempting to purchase cocaine. In 1985, he testified in the scandalous Pittsburgh drug trials. His final 2 major league seasons were in 1985 and 1986 with the San Francisco Giants.

Blue also made a name and career after baseball for himself in the San Francisco Bay Area by donating his time to many charitable causes, mostly promoting baseball in the inner city.

Career statisticsEdit

Pitching

W L WP GP GS CG Sh SV IP BB SO ERA WHIP
209 161 .565 502 473 143 37 2 3343.3 1,185 2,175 3.27 1.233

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. A Bolt of Blue Lightning. TIME Magazine (1971-08-23). Retrieved on 2008-08-11.
  2. The Mighty Fastball. Bill James. espn.com (2004-06-15). Retrieved on 2008-08-11.
  3. Vida Blue Statistics. baseball-reference.com. Retrieved on 2008-08-11.

External linksEdit

Template:1972 Oakland Athletics Template:1973 Oakland Athletics Template:1974 Oakland Athletics Template:AL Cy Young Template:AL MVPs

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