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Vida Blue Cause of Death: What Happened to the Former Oakland A’s and San Francisco Giants Star?


Vida Blue, a former Oakland Athletics rookie who was baseball’s hottest player in 1971 when he threw an unhittable fastball, died on Saturday. He was 73. Blue’s death was acknowledged by the Athletics, but no location or reason of death was given.

Vida Blue was a crucial player in the Athletics’ World Series victories in 1972, 1973, and 1974. His future efforts, however, were never able to match the accolades and excitement of his initial season.

Blue, a lefty, dropped his first game of the season to the Washington Senators but then went on to win his next eight. Five of his first twelve starts resulted in shutouts. He had set baseball records for shutouts, victories, strikeouts, complete games, and earned run average by the end of the season.

He was continually rushing around the field. He rushed to and off the mound, distinguishing him from nearly every other pitcher in baseball history. The New Yorker’s Roger Angell described his speech’s climax as a “leap.”

Vida Blue Cause of Death

Blue’s fastballs were renowned among his opponents, who said they would vanish or leap over their bats. According to some media, the presence of two dimes in his pocket was a lucky charm that helped him win 20 games.

The number of people attending his performances across the country was the highest in several stadiums in a long time. “We want Vida!” cried Detroit Tigers fans outside the locker room.

The A’s made the playoffs for the first time since 1931 but were defeated in the AL Championship Game by the Baltimore Orioles. Blue was so dominant in his debut season that he was awarded both the league’s Cy Young Award winner and MVP.

Blue’s pay was low, around $15,000 per year, so he saved up in anticipation of a great windfall. President Richard Nixon famously called him “the most underpaid player in baseball.”

The A’s eccentric and recalcitrant owner, Charles O. Finley, offered Blue $2,000 to formally change his name to Vida True Blue so that the team could utilize the moniker in advertising materials. Blue declined.

Blue was named in honor of his late father. “I honor him every time Vida Blue’s name appears in the headlines,” Blue told Time. “If Mr. Finley thinks it’s such a great name, why doesn’t he call himself True O. Finley?” was asked.

Blue estimated that he would make $115,000 after the 1971 season. Finley reacted with $50,000 and made the disagreement public. Blue declared his desire to leave professional athletics and work in public relations for a steel firm at a news conference.

Vida Blue Cause of Death

Blue and Finley agreed on a final price of $63,150. After an outstanding 1971 season in which he appeared to be on track to become the first player in MLB history to win 30 games, Blue struggled in 1972 and finished with a 6-10 record.

He pitched adequately but not memorably in relief as the A’s won the postseason and the World Series. “That man has soured me on baseball,” Blue said of Finley in 1973, according to The New York Times.

No matter what he does for me in the future, I’ll never forget how he treated me like a damn colored boy. Blue established himself as a dominant regular-season pitcher after winning 20 games or more in three of his first five seasons.

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His efforts contributed to the A’s subsequent postseason victory. Vida Blue, clad in a checkered suit, is behind the microphones. Two dark-suited men stand on either side of him, one of whom is smoking a cigarette.

Blue requested a raise from $15,000 to $115,000 after his first year. He eventually agreed to pay $63,000 and go away. The deal was made public there. From left to right: Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, Blue, and Oakland Athletics owner Charles Finley.

Blue’s name stood out among the Athletics’ roster of unique names even before he changed it. This ensemble included Blue Moon Odom, Catfish Hunter, Rollie Fingers, Mudcat Grant, and Rick Monday.

Blue had another strong season in 1978 after being traded to the San Francisco Giants, going 18-10 with a 2.79 ERA. But it was off the field that he rose to prominence.

Blue and several other Kansas City Royals players were examined by the federal government in 1983 as part of a drug probe. He acknowledged to possessing the chemical and was sentenced to 81 days in prison as well as a year’s suspension from baseball.

Vida Blue Cause of Death

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It was a startling change of events for a celebrity who was praised for his maturity and poise when he was only 22 years old. In his autobiography “Vida Blue: A Life,” published in 2011, Blue hinted at a long history of substance abuse.

There was “a growing darkness reaching for me” alongside his “glory that I’d achieved,” he wrote. His debate with Finley occurred in 1972, but “the light had already begun to dim.”

Vida Rochelle Blue Jr. was born on July 28, 1949, in the small northern Louisiana hamlet of Mansfield. His father worked in a steel plant, and his family lived on an unpaved street.

Vida’s high school chose to form a baseball team in honor of his fame as a young player. Outfielders tuned him out on the mound because they knew they couldn’t hit him, and his catcher’s hand was painful for days.

He, too, was a good quarterback, but when his father died abruptly at the age of 45, his dreams of playing collegiate football were dashed. Vida’s mother, Sallie Blue, has appointed him as the new leader of the family.

According to Time, when he was only 18 years old, the Athletics offered him a $35,000 signing bonus. He left a large portion to his family. Blue opted to retire before the 1987 season.

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Following his playing career, he became a television analyst for the Giants. He was not accepted into the Hall of Fame, and he occasionally gave reporters interviews in which he blamed the decision on his drug use.

In 2021, the Washington Post reported that an elderly Blue had spoken to a class of high school students at the recommendation of a friend. At the time, one young man’s home life was exceptionally difficult.

Blue grabbed him aside and told him about his own difficult childhood. They eventually sobbed together. “I worked my tail off to polish that image back up and renew the name, Vida Blue Jr.,” he told The Washington Post. Every day is a battle to keep that up.

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