Thursday, December 26, 2013
Sad news out of the baseball world tonight; former Baltimore Oriole and New York Yankee Paul Blair has passed away at the age of 69. Orioles beat writer Roch Kubatko reported the news a short time ago.
Blair had suffered a heart attack at age 66, which led to the discovery that his main artery was 98% blocked. He had a stent installed and went through months of physical therapy. He apparently collapsed at a bowling alley prior to his passing.
Until Ken Griffey Jr. came along, I never saw anyone play center field with the defensive prowess that Paul Blair displayed. He would turn his back to the infield, race back towards the center field wall, turn around and be at the exact spot the ball came down and landed softly in his glove.
He was a seven time Gold Glove winner with the Orioles, a two-time World Series champion, and a member of four AL pennant winning teams. Blair was dealt to the Yankees in January of 1977 for Elliott Maddox and Rick Bladt and earned two more World Series rings.
The California native could hit too, but after being beaned in the head he was never the same player at the plate. He spent the 1979 season with the Cincinnati Reds before a return to the Yankees in 1980 for his 17th and final season in the Major Leagues. The two time All-Star's career came to an end when the Yankees released him in July, 1980.
After his professional playing career concluded, Blair held head coaching positions at Fordham University and Coppin St. College, worked as an outfielder instructor and a minor league coach in the Orioles organization
My condolences go out to his family and friends.
Paul Blair with the game winning hit in Game 1 of the 1977 World Series