From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
July 28, 1949
|July 20, 1969 for
the Oakland Athletics
Last MLB appearance
|October 2, 1986 for
the San Francisco Giants
|Earned run average
Career highlights and awards
Vida Rochelle Blue Jr. (born July 28, 1949) is
a former Major League Baseball left-handed
pitcher. In a 17-year career, he played for the Oakland
Athletics, San Francisco Giants, and Kansas City
In 1970, after spending the season in the
minor leagues with the Iowa Oaks of the American
Association, Blue was called up in September, making two starts
that provided a glimpse of what was to come. 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, with the lone baserunner being Harmon
Killebrew, who walked in the fourth inning.
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. In The Neyer/James Guide to
Pitchers, all-time hits leader Pete Rose stated that Blue 'threw as hard as
anyone' he had ever faced, and
baseball historian Bill
James cited Blue as the hardest-throwing lefty, and the second
hardest thrower of his era, to only Nolan Ryan.
Blue had a 24-8 record in 1971, winning both the Cy Young and MVP
one other starting pitcher, Roger Clemens in 1986, has
since won an MVP Award. That season, the Athletics won the American
League West title for the franchise's first postseason berth
since the Philadelphia Athletics in the 1931 World
Series. He was the youngest American League player in the 20th
Century to win the MVP Award. 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, 17 games in 1974, and 22 games in 1975, as an integral
member of the Oakland Athletics five straight American League
Western Division pennants from 1971-1975, and three consecutive
World Championships in 1972, 1973, and 1974.
In 1976, baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn vetoed an
attempt by Oakland A's owner Charlie Finley to sell Blue to the New York
Yankees and in 1977, Kuhn cancelled a proposed trade
of Blue to the Cincinnati Reds. In both instances,
Kuhn said the trades would be bad for baseball because they would
benefit already powerful teams without making them give up any
significant talent in return. At the end of the 1976 season, nearly
the entire A's roster of star players from Oakland's championship
teams left with Baseball's new free agency, or were traded off by
Finley, leaving Blue, who was still under contract with Oakland, to
mentor a new team of primarily rookies and other young players. In
1978, Blue was traded to the San Francisco Giants.
In 1978, Blue won 18
games as he led the Giants to 89 wins and a second-place finish in
League West Division, which was won by the Los Angeles
Dodgers. His great year was rewarded as he won the Sporting News
National League Pitcher Of The Year. He, along with Chili Davis, were the
last players before Ichiro Suzuki to wear their given name on the back of
their uniforms instead of their surname, having both done so with the
Blue battled drug addiction over the course of his 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 Pittsburgh drug trials. 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. In 1971, Blue accompanied Bob Hope on his USO Christmas tour of Vietnam and other military
installations. Vida currently lives in Costa Rica and is active in promoting the
sport of baseball in that country.
Blue remains active, working for numerous charitable causes
including Safeway All Stars Challenge Sports,
celebrity golf tournaments, and
charities for the children.
Vida Blue at Baseball
September 21, 1970
Twins-Athletics box score at Baseball Almanac
September 21, 1970
Twins-Athletics box score at Baseball Reference.
"A Bolt of Blue
Lightning". TIME Magazine. 1971-08-23. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,877278-2,00.html. Retrieved
The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers, 2004, ISBN 0-7432-6158-5.
"The Mighty Fastball".
espn.com. 2004-06-15. http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/print?id=1822135&type=story. Retrieved
American League MVP and Cy
Young Award winners at Baseball Reference
1971 Most Valuable Player
award voting results at Baseball Reference.
1971 Cy Young Award voting
results at Baseball Reference
Great Baseball Feats, Facts and Figures, 2008 Edition, p. 152,
David Nemec and Scott Flatow, A Signet Book, Penguin Group, New
York, NY, ISBN 978-0-451-22363-0.