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*Vida Blue was born on this date in 1949. He was a Black professional baseball player.
Vida Rochelle Blue Jr. was born and raised in Mansfield in DeSoto Parish, Louisiana. He was the oldest of six children born to Vida Blue, Sr, a laborer in a Mansfield iron foundry, and his wife, Sallie. Blue attended DeSoto High School in Mansfield. He pitched for the baseball team and quarterbacked the football team. In his senior year of football, he threw for 3,400 yards and completed 35 touchdown passes while rushing for 1,600 yards. In his senior year of baseball, Blue threw a no-hitter with 21 strikeouts in just seven innings.
MLB Baseball career
He was a left-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball from 1969 to 1986, most notably as an integral member of the Oakland Athletics dynasty that won three consecutive World Series championships from 1972 to 1974. Blue was a power pitcher who worked fast and attacked 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 fastball, which he threw consistently at 94 miles per hour but could reach 100 miles per hour. In The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers, all-time hits leader Pete Rose stated that Blue "threw as hard as anyone" he ever faced, and baseball historian Bill James cited Blue as the hardest-throwing lefty and the second-hardest thrower of his era, behind only Nolan Ryan.
A six-time All-Star, Blue was 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). During his 17-year career, he pitched for the Oakland Athletics (1969–1977), San Francisco Giants (1978–1981; 1985–86), and Kansas City Royals (1982–83). After baseball, Blue was a baseball analyst for NBC Sports Bay Area. In 1971, Blue accompanied Bob Hope on his USO Christmas tour of Vietnam and other military installations.
Blue remained active, working for numerous charitable causes, including Safeway All Stars Challenge Sports, automobile donations, celebrity golf tournaments, and charities for children. Blue was also active in promoting baseball in Costa Rica.
Blue's troubles with substance abuse continued to haunt him after his playing career, as he faced multiple DUI charges in 2005. He acknowledged that the trials may have influenced him being left off the Hall of Fame ballot after one year, stating, "I had some issues in my life that might have tended to sway voting. Some guys in the Hall of Fame don't have halos." In September 1989, Blue married Peggy Shannon on the pitcher's mound at Candlestick Park. They had twin girls and divorced in 1996. He also had a son, Derrick, and two other daughters.
After retiring from baseball, Blue resided in California's Twain Harte area in the Sierra Nevada foothills for many years before moving to Tracy, California, in 2007. Vida Blue died in a hospital in the East Bay on May 6, 2023, at the age of 73, as a result of medical complications stemming from cancer.