Oakland Athletics legend Vida Blue has died at the age of 78. Blue, a left-handed pitcher who won both MVP and AL Cy Young awards in 1971, played in the MLB between 1969 and 1986. He spent nine years with the A’s before trading to the Giants. After six years with the Giants, he was traded to the Royals but only spent two years in Kansas City before being released. He returned to the Giants for another two seasons before signing a contract with the A’s to retire in Oakland.
“There are few players with a more decorated career than Vida Blue,” the Athletics said in a statement Sunday. “Vida will always be a franchise legend and a friend.” “Vida Blue has been a Bay Area baseball icon for over 50 years,” Giants president Larry Baer said in a statement. “His impact on the Bay Area transcends his 17 years on the diamond with the influence he’s had on our community.”
Vida Blue Defined 70s Baseball
Vida Blue was one of the biggest reasons people watched baseball in the 1970s. He was a young, outspoken pitcher who would pick up the legacy of 60s icons like Bob Gibson. After pitching in just 18 games across 1969 and 1970, he broke out in 1971. He posted a fantastic 1.82 ERA across 39 games while also recording 24 complete games. Blue would be part of the A’s squad that won three consecutive World Series between 1972 and 1974. While he played sparingly in 1972, he heavily contributed to their successes in 1973 and 1974. However, Blue’s time in Oakland would come to an end when he was traded to the Giants in 1978. He continued to play well in San Francisco, being named an all-star in three of his six years with the team.
However, his production began to decline in the 1980s and he was eventually traded to the Royals. Blue lasted just two years in Kansas City, being released in 1983. Later that year, Blue was one of four former Royals to plead to drug charges. Blue spent three months in prison and was suspended for the 1984 season. Returning to baseball in 1985, he headed back to San Francisco. Despite being 35, he still started 48 games over the next two seasons. He officially retired in 1987 after signing a spring contract with the Athletics. He reportedly struggled with substance abuse later in life. However, he is a man who remains a baseball hero for many. Rest in peace, Vida Blue.