Some of the Top Cards of 1976

Sunday, July 12, 2009

1976 Topps #140 - Vida Blue





  • Vida Blue had a good career from 1969-1986. One cannot help but wonder what kind of career he would have had if it weren't for the drug problems he had in the latter half of his career.
  • Blue was in the minors from 1968-1970. He had late season call-ups in 1969 (1-1, 6.64 ERA in 12 games) and in 1970 (2-0, 2.09 ERA in 6 starts). One of those wins was a no-hitter against the Kansas City Royals on September 21.
  • Vida had an awesome season in 1971. He was 24-8 with a 1.82 ERA and was invited to his first All-Star game. He also won the AL MVP and Cy Young awards. Blue lost to the Baltimore Orioles (5 runs in 7 innings) in his only start in the American League Championship series (he was 1-5 in the postseason in his career).
  • After the 1971 season Blue held out for more money. He made $15,000 in 1971 and wanted an increase to $90,000. The A's at first didn't budge but finally relented in May 1972. But Vida wasn't in shape when he reported to the team and had a poor (by his standards) season (6-10, 2.80 ERA in 23 starts.
  • Vida bounced back in 1973 by going 20-9 with a 3.28 ERA. Here is a 1973 Sports Illustrated article about his rebound. He went 17-15 with a 3.25 ERA in 1974, then had his final 20-win season in 1975 (22-11, 3.01 ERA). A's owner Charlie Finley tried to sell Blue to the Yankees in June 1976 but Commissioner Bowie Kuhn invalidated the sale "in the best interests of baseball." Blue ended up 18-13 with a 2.35 ERA for the A's in '76.
  • The Oakland A's didn't have many of their good players left by 1977. Vida had a 14-19 record for the last-place A's in '77. Sal Bando, when asked about Blue still being with the A's, said, "We look upon Vida as a hostage." After the season he was traded to the San Francisco Giants for seven players and a bunch of money. Blue came back with an 18-10 record and a 2.79 ERA for the Giants in 1978. He made the NL All Star team and was 3rd in Cy Young Award balloting as the Giants almost managed to take the NL West. Here is a May 29, 1978 article about Blue and the Giants' improbably rise to contention.
  • Blue had just about his poorest season in 1979. He was 14-14 with a 5.01 ERA. Vida bounced back in 1980 with another All-Star appearence and a 14-10 record with a 2.97 ERA. Blue made his last NL All-Star team in 1981 and was 8-6 with a 2.45 ERA in the strike-shortened season.
  • During spring training in 1982 Blue was traded to the Kansas City Royals in a multi-player trade that got the Giants Atlee Hammaker. Vida was 13-12 with a 3.78 ERA for the Royals in 1982. In 1983 the bottom fell out for Blue as he was 0-5 with a 6.14 ERA. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail for cocaine possession and Kuhn suspended Blue for the whole 1984 season.
  • Vida signed with the Giants as a free agent on April 6, 1985 and was 8-8 with a 4.47 ERA for the last-place Giants. He was 10-10 with a 3.27 ERA in 28 starts in 1986. He was signed by the Oakland A's in 1987 and was slated to rejoin Reggie Jackson, but he flunked a uring test and Blue retired rather than face further scandal.
  • In 1994 Vida was named commissioner of the "Junior Giants." Here is a 2004 article about that.
  • Blue had many legal troubles after his baseball career. He had several arrests for drunken driving and violation of probation.
  • Here is a YouTube link to an interview a 9-year-old boy did with Vida in 2007.
  • According to his Wikipedia entry, Blue is now living in Costa Rica.

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