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

Baseball career

In , 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 Coliseummarker, 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 awards. Only one other starting pitcher, Roger Clemens in , 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 Philadelphiamarker 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 , baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn vetoed an attempt by Oakland A's owner Charlie Finley to sell Blue to the New York Yankees and in , 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 National 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 Giants.

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 Areamarker 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 Vietnammarker and other military installations. Vida currently lives in Costa Ricamarker and is active in promoting the sport of baseball in that country.

Career statistics

209 161 .565 502 473 143 37 2 3343.3 1,185 2,175 3.27 1.233

Charity Work

Blue remains active, working for numerous charitable causes including Safeway All Stars Challenge Sports, automobile donations, celebrity golf tournaments, and charities for the children.

See also


  1. Vida Blue at Baseball Reference.
  2. September 21, 1970 Twins-Athletics box score at Baseball Almanac
  3. September 21, 1970 Twins-Athletics box score at Baseball Reference.
  4. The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers, 2004, ISBN 0-7432-6158-5.
  5. American League MVP and Cy Young Award winners at Baseball Reference
  6. 1971 Most Valuable Player award voting results at Baseball Reference.
  7. 1971 Cy Young Award voting results at Baseball Reference
  8. 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.

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