Left-handed pitcher Vida Blue, who won the 1971 AL Cy Young and MVP awards at age 21 and was a member of three World Series championship teams with the Oakland A’s, has died at age 73.
Blue’s death was confirmed Sunday by the A’s, who called him a “franchise legend and friend. Vida Blue was a left-handed pitcher who played for the San Francisco Giants in the 1970s. Born in Louisiana in 1949, Blue grew up playing baseball and football. He was a standout athlete in high school and was eventually drafted by the Oakland Athletics in 1967.
Blue’s talent was evident from the start of his career. He made his Major League debut in 1969, pitching for the Athletics. In his rookie season, he won 10 games and had an ERA of 1.82. He was named the American League Rookie of the Year and was selected to the All-Star team.
Blue’s success continued in the following years. In 1971, he had a record of 24-8 and won both the American League Cy Young Award and the Most Valuable Player Award. He became the youngest player in history to win both awards in the same season.
In 1978, Blue was traded to the San Francisco Giants. He continued to pitch well for the Giants, but injuries and off-the-field issues began to take their toll. He retired from baseball in 1986 with a career record of 209-161 and an ERA of 3.27.
Blue’s pitching style was characterized by his fastball, which could reach speeds of up to 100 miles per hour, and his curveball, which had a sharp break. He was also known for his high leg kick, which he used as a timing mechanism. His unique delivery made him a fan favorite and one of the most exciting pitchers to watch.
Off the field, Blue was known for his charitable work. He established the Vida Blue Foundation, which raises money for underprivileged children in the Bay Area. The foundation has donated millions of dollars to organizations that support youth sports, education, and health.
Despite his success on the field and his charitable work off the field, Blue’s career was not without controversy. He struggled with substance abuse issues throughout his career and was arrested several times for drug-related offenses. He has since become an advocate for drug prevention and has spoken publicly about his struggles with addiction.
In 1991, Blue was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. He is also a member of the Oakland Athletics Hall of Fame and the African American Ethnic Sports Hall of Fame.
Today, Blue is retired from baseball and lives in California. He remains a beloved figure in the Bay Area, where he is remembered for his dominant pitching and his commitment to giving back to the community. His legacy serves as a reminder of the impact that athletes can have both on and off the field.