Any baseball fan in the 1970s remembers the Oakland A’s. for their brash owner Charlie Finley, the loud colored hats and uniforms, their long hair, and mustaches.
One of the greats in Oakland A’s history recently passed away. Vida Blue was an MVP switch-hitting, left-handed pitcher for the Oakland A’s and died May 6, 2023, at 73. No cause of death was reported.
Blue also played for the Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants. He played 17 years in Oakland, winning the American League Cy Young Award and Most Valuable Player in 1971.
He finished his major league career as a pitcher with 209 wins and 161 losses. He struck out 2,175 batters, pitched 143 complete games, and recorded 37 shutouts in his 17 seasons in Oakland.
He was a significant reason the A’s won five straight American League Western Division pennants, along with three World Series in 72, 73, and 74.
Larry Baer, San Francisco Giants President, said that he had been a baseball icon for 50 years and added his community influence and impact on the Bay Area to his long list of accomplishments.
Being an all-star baseball player is not without its challenges.
Vida Blue and Oakland players Jeff Leonard, Tim Raines, and Lonnie Smith appeared before a Pittsburg grand jury on charges of purchasing cocaine. Pittsburg Pirate players Dave Parker and Dale Berra also appeared in the courtroom.
U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Milton Sullivant gave Blue a year in prison but then reduced the sentence to three months, and Blue paid a fine of $5,000.
Blue was one of 11 players permitted to stay in baseball, provided they donated part of their salary to support local anti-drug programs.
Blue was an accomplished football player and received offers from Notre Dame, the University of Houston, and Purdue University. Signing a contract with Oakland would pay him $12,500 a year, and he could use the money to help support his family after his father’s death.