The MLB and Southern University lost a legend over the weekend in Vida Blue. He died on Saturday, May 6 at 73 years old.
“It is with great sadness that the Blue family mourn the passing of our beloved father Vida Blue,” the family said in a statement shared by the Oakland Athletics. “Vida was a great father, grandfather, brother, friend, and teammate who will be forever cherished, honored, and loved.”
Vida Blue was born in Mansfield, Louisiana, on July 28, 1949 to Vida Blue Sr. and Sallie Blue. He was the oldest of six siblings.
Blue was a highly sought-after prospect in both football and baseball, but it was his baseball skills that caught the attention of scouts. He was drafted by the Kansas City Athletics in the second round of the 1969 MLB draft and made his major league debut the same year after spending just one semester at Southern University.
Blue quickly established himself as one of the game’s top pitchers, finishing with a record of 10 wins and 10 losses, and an ERA of 3.27 during his rookie season. He continued to improve over the next few years and had a breakout season in 1971, winning both the American League MVP and Cy Young awards.
Blue went on to help the Oakland Athletics win three-consecutive World Series from 1971 through 1973.
Vida Blue went on to play for several other teams during his career, including the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals. He finished his career in 1986 with a career record of 209 wins and 161 losses, an ERA of 3.27, and 2,175 strikeouts.
Late in his career he was sentenced to three months in prison for possession of cocaine. He was suspended by the MLB for the 1984 season and retired in 1987.