Some of the Top Cards of 1976

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

1976 Topps #473 - Paul Blair

  • Paul "Motormouth" Blair was a great defensive center fielder who spent most of his career with the Baltimore Orioles. Blair was signed by the New York Mets in 1961 and, after spending 1962 playing in the Mets' system, was drafted by the Orioles in the "first year draft." Paul played in the Orioles' system in 1963 and 1964 and was 0 for 1 for the Orioles in a short call-up in late 1964.
  • Blair was given the starting center field job for the Orioles in 1965. He struggled at the plate and was sent down for a month in July. Blair batted .234 in 119 games for the Orioles in '65. Paul improved his offense in 1966 and batted .277 in 133 games. He went 1 for 6 in the World Series.
  • Paul won the first of eight Gold Glove awards in 1967. He also had a good year at the plate as he led the AL with 12 triples and batted .293 with 11 home runs. Blair batted .211 in 141 games in 1968.
  • Blair won a Gold Glove in 1969 and would win the award every season from 1969-1975. Paul also made the AL All Star team for the first time and went 0 for 2 in the game. Blair batted .285 with a career-high 26 home runs and scored 102 runs. Paul batted .400 in the ALCS and .100 in the World Series.
  • Paul was beaned by a pitch by Ken Tatum on May 31, 1970 and suffered a  broken nose. His offense suffered due to the beaning and he was never the same hitter. Blair batted .267 with 18 HR in 133 games in 1970 and batted .077 in the ALCS and .474 in the World Series.
  • Blair tried to become a switch-hitter in 1971 but the experiment ended after he went 11 for 57 (.193). Paul batted .262 with 10 HR in 141 games in 1971. Blair batted .333 in the ALCS  and .333 in the World Series.
  • Paul had a down year offensively in 1972, batting .233 in 142 games. In 1973 he came back to be an AL All Star again (he was a late-inning defensive replacement). Blair batted .280 with 10 HR and 64 RBI in '73 and batted .167 in the ALCS.
  • Blair got some minor MVP consideration in 1974 (13th place) and batted .261 with 17 HR and 62 RBI. He batted .286 in the ALCS. It would be his last productive offensive year. In 1975 he won his last Gold Glove but batted .218 in 140 games. Paul dropped to .197 in 146 games in 1976. After the 1976 season Blair asked to be traded (he didn't agree with being platooned in centerfield) and was traded to the New York Yankees for Elliot Maddox and Rick Bladt.
  • The Yankees of the late 1970s were loaded and Blair became a backup outfielder. In 1977 Paul batted .262 in 164 at bats while playing in 83 games. He went 2 for 5 in the ALCS and 1 for 4 in the  World Series. Blair batted .176 in 125 at bats in 1978. He was 0 for 6 in the ALCS and batted .375 in the World Series.
  • Paul played in two games for the Yankees in 1979 (1 for 5) and then was released on April 12. Blair was signed by the Cincinnati Reds on  May 8 but he batted only .150 in 140 at bats. Paul retired after the season and became a coach in the Yankees organization.
  • The Yankees needed some outfield help in 1980 so Blair was activated for about a month. He played in 12 games but batted only twice (0 for 2). After his release on July 1 Blair went back to coaching.
  • In 1982 Paul was hired as the coach for Fordham University. He coached there for the 1982 season and then did some coaching in the Houston Astros and the Orioles' organizations. He then played in the Senior Professional Baseball League and became the manager of an independent team. Paul coached for Coppin State College from 1998-2002. Blair had a heart attack in 2009 and is now recovered and retired in Maryland.
  • An Ex-Star Speaks Out Against Platooning System - September 1988 Baseball Digest
  • Centerfielder Paul Blair: He Was A Gifted Ball Hawk - June 1992 Baseball Digest
  • Liked to face: Steve Barber (.480 in 25 AB); Paul Splittorff (.441 in 34 AB); Gary Bell/Juan Pizarro (.417 in 24 AB)
  • Hated to face: Jesse Jefferson (.000 in 15 AB); Andy  Messersmith (.083 in 24 AB); John O'Donohuge (.100 in 20 AB)

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