Bay Area remembers the 'incredible pitcher' and baseball great
OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Baseball is remembering one of its greatest stars who played the game on both sides of the Bay. Vida Blue, the former A's and Giants player - famous during the 1970s and 1980s - died Saturday at age 73, according to his family.
He was the hard-throwing, left-hander who became one of baseball's biggest draws during the early 1970s.
"He was as dynamic as anybody in the Bay Area. You wanted to see Vida Blue. When he pitched, you wanted to be at the game," said KNBR Radio Host Marty Lurie.
Lurie remembers Blue as a kind and humble man and one of baseball's greats. He helped lead the Oakland A's to three straight World Series titles.
During his heyday, Lurie says Blue had differences with A's management and stood up to then owner, Charlie Finley
"Then he took on Finley -- he didn't want to pay him in '72. Vida said, 'I'm going to work in a plumbing supply story.' Charlie relented and had to pay him the money he deserved," Lurie said.
Vida Blue then played for the SF Giants, during the late 70s and Mid 80s
"Incredible power pitcher, set it on fire, for somebody to be able to transition from A's to Giants and have same popularity is an amazing thing," said Giants fan Joe Kovar.
The Giants observed a moment of silence at Oracle Park before Sunday's game against the Brewers, to remember Vida and his legendary career.
Byron Stoner says growing up, Vida Blue was his role model.
"He used to throw us balls, as kids he threw the balls to us, very nice guy, signed autographs and always talked to us," Stoner said.
"He was a good man, good for the community, supporting children's sports. He leaves great legacy," said Giants fan Bruce Burgoyne.
Blue had his personal struggles after his career was derailed by substance abuse issues.
"He had his issues as many do in life involved in the cocaine scandals in baseball but Vida never lost his ability lead and be a mentor," Lurie said.
Last year, the A's honored the 1972 World Championship Squad -- the year the A's beat the Reds -- capturing the first major pro sports championship in Bay Area history.
Vida Blue was part of making it happen.
The A's wrote in a statement Sunday:
"There are few players with a more decorated career than Vida Blue. He was a three-time champion, an MVP, a six-time All-Star, a Cy Young Award winner, and an Oakland A's Hall of Famer. Vida will always be a franchise legend and a friend. We send our deepest condolences to his family and friends during this arduous time."
Blue played for the Oakland A's from 1969-1977. He also played with the San Francisco Giants twice from 1978-81, and from 1985-1986. He also had a stint with the Kansas City Royals in the 1982-1983 season.
The Giants released a statement, writing:
"The San Francisco Giants are saddened to learn of the passing of six-time All-Star and longtime Bay Area pitcher Vida Blue, who passed away last night. Blue was 73 years old. Vida Blue has been a Bay Area baseball icon for over 50 years," said Larry Baer, Giants President & Chief Executive Officer. "His impact on the Bay Area transcends his 17 years on the diamond with the influence he's had on our community. For many years, he was such an integral part of our Junior Giants program. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family and friends during this time."
As a member of the San Francisco Giants, Blue was named an All-Star in three of his six seasons (1978, 1980, 1981) and posted a 72-58 record with a 3.52 ERA in 179 games overall. In 1978, his first season in San Francisco, Blue finished third in Cy Young voting, posting an 18-10 record with a 2.79 ERA. Blue's 3.52 ERA ranks ninth overall in San Francisco Giants history.
The three-time World Series champion spent 15 of his 17 Major League seasons in the Bay Area, nine seasons with Oakland (1969-1977) and six with San Francisco (1978-1981 and 1985-1986). In 1971, at the age of 22, Blue won the American League Cy Young and MVP Awards after posting a 24-8 record with an AL-leading 1.82 ERA while with Oakland. Over his career, the Mansfield, Louisiana native posted three 20+ win seasons (1971, 1973 and 1975) while going 209-161 with a 3.27 ERA in 502 career games.
The left-hander is a member of both the Giants Wall of Fame and the Athletics Hall of Fame. In 1995, he was also inducted into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame. He served many years as a community representative for the Giants and was personally involved in several charitable causes including Northern Light School in Oakland.
Our thoughts, prayers and deepest condolences go to the Blue family, his friends and all those whose lives he touched. Blue is survived by his son Derrick, daughters Alexis, Valerie, Sallie, and Evelyn."
There is no word on the cause of death.