Vida Blue

Vida Rochelle Blue Jr. (born July 28, 1949) is an American former Major League Baseball left-handed pitcher. During a 17-year career, he pitched for the Oakland Athletics (1969–77), San Francisco Giants (1978–81; 1985–86), and Kansas City Royals (1982–83). He won the American League Cy Young Award and Most Valuable Player Award in 1971. He is a six-time All-Star, and is the first of only five pitchers in major league history to start the All-Star Game for both the American League (1971) and the National League (1978); Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Roy Halladay, and Max Scherzer later duplicated the feat.[1]

Vida Blue
Vida Blue at TwinsFest 2010
Vida Blue at FanFest 2010
Born: July 28, 1949 (age 69)
Mansfield, Louisiana
Batted: Switch Threw: Left
MLB debut
July 20, 1969, for the Oakland Athletics
Last MLB appearance
October 2, 1986, for the San Francisco Giants
MLB statistics
Win–loss record209–161
Earned run average3.27
Career highlights and awards

Early life

Blue, the oldest of six children, was born and raised in Mansfield in DeSoto Parish in northwestern Louisiana. His father worked as a laborer in an iron foundry. In high school, Blue pitched for the baseball team and also was the quarterback for the football team. In his senior year, he threw for 3,400 yards and completed 35 touchdown passes while rushing for 1,600 yards in football. In his senior year of baseball, Blue threw a no-hitter. Blue also had a 21 strikeout game, in seven innings pitched.[2] He received several offers to play college football, but after his father died suddenly Blue signed a contract with the Oakland A's.[3]

Baseball career

An Oakland A's Pitcher Delivers During A Game With The Home Team Chicago Cubs At Wrigley Field, 07-1973 (8674830191)
Vida Blue pitches for the Oakland A's

Unlike many southpaws, Blue was a power pitcher who worked fast and pounded the strike zone. He threw an occasional curveball to keep hitters off balance and an above average change-up, but his signature pitch was a blistering fastball that could dial up to 100 miles per hour (160 km/h).[4] 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,[5] and baseball historian Bill James cited Blue as the hardest-throwing lefty, and the hardest thrower of his era, behind only Nolan Ryan.[6]

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, the lone baserunner coming on Harmon Killebrew's fourth-inning walk.[7][8]

Blue had a 24–8 record in 1971, winning both the Cy Young and MVP awards. He was the first Athletic to win the latter award since another pitcher, Bobby Shantz, in 1952 with what were then the Philadelphia Athletics.[9][10][11][12] He also led the American League in complete games (24), shutouts (8) and earned run average (1.82).[13] 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 got off to a terrific start, going 10-1 when he linked up with Boston's Sonny Siebert, who was 8-0, in a dramatic May matchup in Boston. The game was won by Siebert and the Red Sox 4-3, and remains what is considered one of the most dramatic games in Fenway Park history. He was the youngest American League player to win the MVP Award in the 20th century.[14] 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. In 1971 he became the only player ever to be a starting pitcher in the league opener (against the Washington Senators), the All-Star Game and the playoff opener (against the Baltimore Orioles) in the same season.

In 1971, he was on the covers of Sports Illustrated and Time magazine.[15] In 1972, his success in baseball led Blue to a small role in the film Black Gunn, starring Jim Brown.

After Blue's breakthrough season in 1971, he and Athletics owner Charlie Finley clashed over his salary. Blue held out, missing much of the year, and ended up with a 6–10 record. He didn't make the Athletics' post-season starting rotation, instead pitching mainly in relief. Against the Cincinnati Reds in the 1972 World Series he made four appearances, including a save in Game 1, a blown save in Game 4, and a loss in a spot-start in Game 6.

Blue returned to form to win 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 to 1975, and three consecutive World Championships in 1972, 1973, and 1974. Perhaps his finest postseason performances were four innings of shutout relief work against the Detroit Tigers to save Game 5 of the 1972 American League Championship Series and a complete-game 1-0 shutout against the Orioles in Game 3 of the 1974 ALCS.

On September 28, 1975, Blue, Glenn Abbott, Paul Lindblad and Rollie Fingers combined to no-hit the California Angels 5-0. The no-hitter is, as of 2014, one of only four to be pitched on the final day of a regular season, the others being Mike Witt's perfect game in 1984, Henderson Álvarez's no-hitter in 2013, and Jordan Zimmermann's no-hitter on September 28, 2014. Blue also became the first no-hit pitcher to also pitch in a combined no-hitter; he has since been joined by Chicago White Sox hurlers John 'Blue Moon' Odom and Francisco Barrios, the California Angels' Mark Langston and Mike Witt, the Atlanta Braves' Kent Mercker, Mark Wohlers, and Alejandro Peña, and Kevin Millwood and Cole Hamels of the Philadelphia Phillies.

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 1978, 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 third-place finish in the 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, both having 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. His troubles with substance abuse seem to haunt this former great pitcher, as he faced multiple DUI charges in 2005.[16]

Blue 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. Blue currently lives in San Francisco and is active in promoting the sport of baseball.

He is currently a baseball analyst for NBC Sports Bay Area, the TV home of the San Francisco Giants.

Career statistics

209 161 .565 502 473 143 37 2 3343.1 2939 1357 1213 1185 2175 3.27 1.233

Charity work

Blue remains active, working for numerous charitable causes including Safeway All Stars Challenge Sports,[17] automobile donations,[18] celebrity golf tournaments,[19] and charities for children.[20]

In popular media

As a guest announcer on the WEEI Red Sox radio broadcast Memorial Day, May 27, 2019, versus the Cleveland Indians, Chris Berman stumped the booth, asking what he described as his favorite baseball trivia question, “Who is the last switch hitter to win the AL MVP?” The answer: Vida Blue. Given adoption of the DH rule in the American League with the 1973 season, Vida Blue is likely the last pitcher to accomplish this feat.

See also


  1. ^ "Vida Blue Stats". Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  2. ^ Charlie Finley: The Outrageous Story of Baseball's Super Showman, p.84, G. Michael Green and Roger D. Launius. Walker Publishing Company, New York, 2010, ISBN 978-0-8027-1745-0
  3. ^ "A Review of the Events of 1971", The 1972 World Book Year Book, p.246, Joseph P. Spohn
  4. ^ "A Bolt of Blue Lightning". TIME Magazine. August 23, 1971. Retrieved August 11, 2008.
  5. ^ The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers, 2004, ISBN 0-7432-6158-5.
  6. ^ Bill James (June 15, 2004). "The Mighty Fastball". Retrieved August 11, 2008.
  7. ^ "Box Score of Game played on Monday, September 21, 1970 at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum". Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  8. ^ This was the first game of a double deader. September 21, 1970 Twins-Athletics box score at Baseball Reference.
  9. ^ "MLB Most Valuable Player MVP Awards & Cy Young Awards Winners". Retrieved May 2, 2019.
  10. ^ 1971 Most Valuable Player award voting results at Baseball Reference.
  11. ^ "1971 Awards Voting". Retrieved May 2, 2019.
  12. ^
  13. ^ A Review of the Events of 1971, The 1972 World Book Year Book, p.246, Joseph P. Spohn
  14. ^ Great Baseball Feats, Facts and Figures, 2008 Edition, p. 152, David Nemec and Scott Flatow, a Signet Book, Penguin Group, New York, ISBN 978-0-451-22363-0.
  15. ^ Charlie Finley: The Outrageous Story of Baseball's Super Showman, p.148, G. Michael Green and Roger D. Launius. Walker Publishing Company, New York, 2010, ISBN 978-0-8027-1745-0
  16. ^ Murphy, Dave (May 17, 2005). The San Francisco Chronicle Missing or empty |title= (help)
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 15, 2011. Retrieved November 1, 2009.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  19. ^
  20. ^

External links

1967 Major League Baseball draft

The Major League Baseball draft (or "first-year player draft") recruits amateur baseball players into the American Major League Baseball league. The players selected in 1967 included many talented prospects who later had careers in the professional league. Some selections included Bobby Grich and Don Baylor (Baltimore), Vida Blue (Kansas City Athletics), Dusty Baker and Ralph Garr (Atlanta), Ken Singleton and Jon Matlack (Mets), and Ted Simmons and Jerry Reuss (St. Louis). In the January draft, Boston selected catcher Carlton Fisk and the New York Mets drafted Ken Singleton. The Cincinnati Reds selected Chris Chambliss in the 31st round only to have him enroll in junior college. The Mets chose Dan Pastorini in the 32nd round, but Pastorini chose football and played several seasons in the NFL. Atlanta also chose Archie Manning in the 43rd round.

1971 Major League Baseball All-Star Game

The 1971 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, the 42nd such game, was played on July 13, 1971. The all-stars from the American League and the National League faced each other at Tiger Stadium, home of the Detroit Tigers. The American League won by a score of 6–4.This was the third time that the Tigers had hosted the All-Star Game (at the previous two in 1941 and 1951, Tiger Stadium had been called Briggs Stadium). This would be the last time Tiger Stadium hosted the All-Star Game, as when it returned to Detroit in 2005, the Tigers had moved to their new home at Comerica Park.

This was the first American League win since the second All-Star Game of 1962, and would be their last until the 54th All-Star Game in 1983. Over the twenty game stretch from 1963–1982, the American League would go 1–19; the worst stretch for either league in the history of the exhibition.

1971 Oakland Athletics season

The 1971 Oakland Athletics season involved the A's finishing first in the American League West with a record of 101 wins and 60 losses. In their first postseason appearance of any kind since 1931, the A's were swept in three games by the Baltimore Orioles in the American League Championship Series.

1972 American League Championship Series

The 1972 American League Championship Series took place between October 7 and 12, 1972. The Oakland Athletics (93–62 on the season) played the Detroit Tigers (86–70 on the season) for the right to go to the 1972 World Series, with the A's coming out on top in the five-game series, 3–2. Games 1 and 2 took place at the Oakland Coliseum, and 3 through 5 took place at Tiger Stadium.

1973 Oakland Athletics season

The 1973 Oakland Athletics season involved the A's winning their third consecutive American League West title with a record of 94 wins and 68 losses. The A's went on to defeat the Baltimore Orioles in the ALCS for their second straight AL Championship, and won the World Series in seven games over the New York Mets to take their second consecutive World Championship.

1976 Oakland Athletics season

The 1976 Oakland Athletics season involved the A's finishing second in the American League West with a record of 87 wins and 74 losses, 2½ games behind the Kansas City Royals, meaning that the A's failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 1970. This team set and still holds the modern Major League team record for most stolen bases in a season with 341.The Athletics would not eclipse this season's win total until 1988 (when they won 104). Indeed, nearly all of the team's stars (Sal Bando, Rollie Fingers, Gene Tenace, Joe Rudi, Bert Campaneris, Don Baylor, Phil Garner, Billy Williams, Claudell Washington, and an injury-plagued Willie McCovey) would depart during the 1976–77 offseason. This staggering mass exodus contributed led to a 24-win plunge in 1977.

1977 Oakland Athletics season

The 1977 Oakland Athletics season was a season in American baseball. The team finished 7th in the American League West with a record of 63 wins and 98 losses. Paid attendance for the season was 495,578, one of the worst attendance figures for the franchise during the 1970s.

1978 Major League Baseball All-Star Game

The 1978 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the 49th midseason exhibition between the all-stars of the American League (AL) and the National League (NL), the two leagues comprising Major League Baseball. The game was played on July 11, 1978, at San Diego Stadium in San Diego, home of the San Diego Padres of the National League. The game resulted in a 7-3 victory for the NL.

This was the first All-Star Game to be played in San Diego. It would return in 1992 to be played in the same stadium, though it was renamed Jack Murphy Stadium by that time.

The honorary captains were Brooks Robinson (for the AL) and Eddie Mathews (for the NL).

1978 Oakland Athletics season

The 1978 Oakland Athletics season was the team's eleventh in Oakland, California. The team sought to rebound from its first losing season in a decade (a 63-99 result in 1977). Despite low expectations, the Athletics remained competitive for nearly three-quarters of the season. Despite posting a respectable 61-56 mark through 117 games, the Athletics collapsed in the season's final weeks; their 8-37 finish ensured a second consecutive season of fewer than 70 wins.

Only one player (Billy North) remained from the team's 1974 championship season. He would be traded to the Dodgers in May.

Prior to the season, owner Charlie Finley nearly sold the team to buyers who would have moved them to Denver.

Dixie, Louisiana

Dixie is an unincorporated community in Caddo Parish, Louisiana, United States. It is part of the Shreveport–Bossier City Metropolitan Statistical Area.

The late Ansel M. Stroud, Jr., the adjutant general of the Louisiana National Guard from 1980 to 1997, was reared in Dixie. His father owned one of two general stores in the town sometime during the 1940s-1960s.

Phil and Si Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame were also residents of the town sometime in the 1950s and 1960s.

Vida Blue, Hall of Fame baseball player, is rumored to have played here as a child.

Dixie was founded sometime in the 1890s by the Dickson family, who built a large antebellum style home in the center of town.

Glenn Abbott

William Glenn Abbott (born February 16, 1951) is a former Major League Baseball (MLB) pitcher and current pitching coach for the Syracuse Mets. During an 11-year baseball career, he pitched for the Oakland Athletics (1973–76), Seattle Mariners (1977–81; 1983), and Detroit Tigers (1983–84). Abbott, along with Vida Blue, Paul Lindblad and Rollie Fingers combined for the first four-pitcher combined no-hitter in MLB history.

John Henry Johnson (baseball)

John Henry Johnson (born August 21, 1956) is a former Major League Baseball player. He was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 15th round of the 1974 amateur draft. He made his major league debut for the Oakland A's in 1978 after being acquired before the season in the trade that sent Vida Blue to the Giants.

List of Oakland Athletics no-hitters

The Oakland Athletics are a Major League Baseball franchise based in Oakland, California. They play in the American League West division. Also known in their early years as the "Philadelphia Athletics" (1901–54) and "Kansas City Athletics" (1954–67), pitchers for the Athletics have thrown thirteen no-hitters in franchise history, five during the Philadelphia years and eight after the move to Oakland but none during the Kansas City era. A no-hitter is officially recognized by Major League Baseball only "when a pitcher (or pitchers) allows no hits during the entire course of a game, which consists of at least nine innings", though one or more batters "may reach base via a walk, an error, a hit by pitch, a passed ball or wild pitch on strike three, or catcher's interference". No-hitters of less than nine complete innings were previously recognized by the league as official; however, several rule alterations in 1991 changed the rule to its current form. A no-hitter is rare enough that one team in Major League Baseball has never had a pitcher accomplish the feat. Two perfect games, a special subcategory of no-hitter, have been pitched in Athletics history. As defined by Major League Baseball, "in a perfect game, no batter reaches any base during the course of the game." These feats were achieved by Catfish Hunter in 1968, which was the first perfect game in American League history since 1922, and Dallas Braden in 2010, which was the second perfect game in the majors – both against the same team – in ten months.

Weldon Henley threw the first no-hitter in Athletics history on July 22, 1905; the most recent no hitter was thrown by Sean Manaea on April 21, 2018. Only three left-handed pitchers have thrown no-hitters in franchise history and the other nine pitchers were right-handed. Vida Blue is the only pitcher in Athletics history to have thrown more than one no-hitter in an Athletics uniform, include the starting pitcher in a combined no-hitter. Nine no-hitters were thrown at home and three on the road. They threw four in May, one in June, one in July, one in August, and five in September. The longest interval between no-hitters was between the games pitched by Bullet Joe Bush and Fowler, encompassing 29 years and 14 days from August 26, 1916, till September 9, 1945. Conversely, the shortest interval between no-hitters was between the games pitched by Sean Manaea and Mike Fiers, encompassing merely 1 year and 16 days from April 21 2018, till May 7, 2019. The Athletics have no-hit the Minnesota Twins (formerly "Washington Senators") most often: three times by McCahan (in 1947), Hunter (in 1968), and Vida Blue (in 1970). None of those no-hitters saw the Athletics allow a run through a combination of errors, walks, hit by pitch or catcher’s interference. The most baserunners allowed in a no-hitter was by Bush (in 1916), who allowed five. Of the thirteen no-hitters, three have been won by a score of 3–0, more common than any other results. The largest margin of victory in a no-hitter were 6–0 wins by Henley in 1905 and Blue in 1970. The smallest margin of victory was a 1–0 win by Dick Fowler in 1945.

The umpire is also an integral part of any no-hitter. The task of the umpire in a baseball game is to make any decision “which involves judgment, such as, but not limited to, whether a batted ball is fair or foul, whether a pitch is a strike or a ball, or whether a runner is safe or out… [the umpire’s judgment on such matters] is final.” Part of the duties of the umpire making calls at home plate includes defining the strike zone, which “is defined as that area over homeplate (sic) the upper limit of which is a horizontal line at the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants, and the lower level is a line at the hollow beneath the kneecap.” These calls define every baseball game and are therefore integral to the completion of any no-hitter. A different umpire presided over each of the Athletics’ twelve no-hitters.

The manager is another integral part of any no-hitter. The tasks of the manager is to determine the starting rotation as well as batting order and defensive lineup every game. Managers choosing the right pitcher and right defensive lineup at a right game at a right place at a right time would contribute to a no-hitter. Eight different managers, such as Connie Mack who managed the team for 50 years, have involved in the Athletics’ twelve no-hitters.

Oteil Burbridge

Oteil Burbridge is an American multi-instrumentalist, specializing on the bass guitar, trained in playing jazz and classical music from an early age. He has achieved fame primarily on bass guitar during the resurgence of the Allman Brothers Band from 1997 through 2014, and as a founding member of the band Dead & Company. Burbridge was also a founding member of The Aquarium Rescue Unit, and has worked with other musicians including Bruce Hampton, Trey Anastasio, Page McConnell, Bill Kreutzmann and The Derek Trucks Band, with whom his brother Kofi Burbridge was the keyboardist and flautist.

Burbridge has been recognized for his ability to incorporate scat-singing into his improvised bass solos. Burbridge endorses Fodera, Modulus, Sukop and Dunlop guitars and effects.

Page McConnell

Page Samuel McConnell (born May 17, 1963 in Philadelphia) is an American multi-instrumentalist most noted for his work as a songwriter and keyboardist for the band Phish.

In addition to being a member of Phish since 1985, McConnell has been part of a number of other side projects, including leading the electronic jazz fusion band Vida Blue and acting as a session musician for the comedy rock duo Tenacious D. He released his debut solo album, Page McConnell, in 2007.

Pittsburgh drug trials

The Pittsburgh drug trials of 1985 were the catalyst for a Major League Baseball-related cocaine scandal. Several concurrent and former members of the Pittsburgh Pirates – Dale Berra, Lee Lacy, Lee Mazzilli, John Milner, Dave Parker, and Rod Scurry – and other notable major league players – Willie Aikens, Vida Blue, Enos Cabell, Keith Hernandez, Jeffrey Leonard, Tim Raines, and Lonnie Smith – were called before a Pittsburgh grand jury. Their testimony led to the drug trials, which made national headlines in September 1985.Eleven players were officially suspended, but all the suspensions were commuted in exchange for fines, drug testing, and community service. The Pittsburgh drug trials are considered one of baseball's biggest all-time scandals, albeit one that was "behind the scenes" and did not affect play on the field.

Russell Batiste Jr.

David Russell Batiste Jr. (born December 12, 1965) is an American drummer based in New Orleans.

Senior Professional Baseball Association

The Senior Professional Baseball Association, referred to commonly as the Senior League, was a winter baseball league based in Florida for players age 35 and over, with a minimum age of 32 for catchers. The league began play in 1989 and had eight teams in two divisions and a 72-game schedule. Pitchers Rollie Fingers, Ferguson Jenkins (both future Hall of Famers), and Vida Blue, outfielder Dave Kingman, and managers Earl Weaver and Dick Williams were the league's marquee names; and former big league outfielder Curt Flood was the circuit's first Commissioner. At age 54, Ed Rakow was the league's oldest player.

Vida Blue (band)

Vida Blue is an electronic trio featuring Page McConnell (Phish), with Oteil Burbridge (The Allman Brothers Band, Aquarium Rescue Unit), and Russell Batiste (The Meters).

Preceded by
Bill Singer
No-hitter pitcher
September 21, 1970
Succeeded by
Ken Holtzman
Preceded by
Ed Halicki
No-hit game
September 28, 1975
(with Abbott, Lindblad & Fingers)
Succeeded by
Larry Dierker


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