The news of the passing of the esteemed former Major League Baseball (MLB) player, Vida Blue, at the age of 73 has left fans of the game devastated and seeking answers to the question, “What caused Vida Blue’s death?”
Blue’s professional debut was made at the tender age of 19 in 1969 with the Kansas City A’s, who later relocated to Oakland. His exceptional prowess on the field led him to win the American League Cy Young and Most Valuable Player (MVP) Awards in 1971, making him the youngest player ever to achieve this milestone. Blue’s impressive career spanned several years, during which he predominantly played for the Oakland Athletics, winning three consecutive World Series championships from 1972-74. This article aims to provide insight into the reasons behind Vida Blue’s death and an overview of his career highlights.
How Did Vida Blue Die?
A statement from the family of Vida Blue. pic.twitter.com/uZEWRyzIAV
— Oakland A's (@Athletics) May 7, 2023
Vida Blue, a renowned pitcher for the Oakland Athletics, passed away only a few weeks after the team disclosed its intention to relocate out of the city by the end of the decade. While the official cause of death has not been revealed, close associates of Blue have disclosed that he had been fighting an unspecified type of cancer. With his demise, an epoch has come to an end not just for the A’s but for the baseball community as a whole.
Born in Louisiana in 1949, Vida Rochelle Blue Jr. showed exceptional athletic ability in both football and baseball from an early age. He gained widespread recognition in his senior year after achieving a remarkable 21-strikeout no-hitter.
Despite receiving multiple offers from esteemed NCAA colleges, Blue made the decision to pursue his lifelong dream of playing in the major leagues right after completing high school. The passing of his father was reportedly a key influence on this decision.
In the 1967 MLB Draft, Blue was selected in the second round by the Kansas City A’s, who were based in northwestern Louisiana at the time. Although he only appeared in 18 games, including 10 starts, for the A’s over his initial two seasons, Blue’s dominance after his call-up in September 1970 served as a glimpse of his future success. Just two starts after pitching a one-hit shutout against the Royals in Kansas City, Blue pitched a no-hitter at home against the Twins, striking out nine batters and allowing just one to reach base on a walk in the fourth inning.
Vida Blue’s career took a sharp turn for the better in 1971, as he won both the AL Cy Young and MVP Awards after finishing with a remarkable 24-8 record, a 1.82 ERA, and 301 strikeouts in 312 innings pitched. He became only the fifth player in history to earn both awards in the same season. During his 17-year career, he made six All-Star appearances and played for the Giants, Royals, and A’s.
We mourn the passing of Vida Blue, a Cy Young, MVP and three-time World Series winner. He was 73. pic.twitter.com/dTJScoMstO
— MLB (@MLB) May 7, 2023
Blue’s quick rise to success was even more noteworthy because he almost chose to pursue a different sport after high school. He was born as Vida Rochelle Blue Jr. in Mansfield, Louisiana on July 28, 1949, and was a talented athlete who excelled in both football and baseball in high school. However, after his father’s passing during his senior year, he decided to focus on baseball as it would enable him to support his family sooner than football.
After his impressive performance in the 1971 season, Vida Blue found himself in a contract dispute with Oakland A’s owner Charlie Finley. The disagreement escalated to the point where Blue left the sport and took a job at a steel company. Eventually, an agreement was brokered with the help of Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, and Blue returned to the A’s on May 24, 1972.
Later in his career, Blue encountered some legal trouble and was briefly imprisoned for attempting to buy cocaine. As a result, he was suspended by Commissioner Kuhn and missed the entire 1984 season.
Over the course of his career, Vida Blue achieved a 209-161 record, a 3.27 ERA, 2,175 strikeouts, 143 complete games, and 37 shutouts spanning 3,343 1/3 innings. He was nominated for the Hall of Fame by baseball writers in 1993, but he ultimately received just 8.7% of the vote. In 2019, however, he was inducted into the Oakland A’s Hall of Fame to recognize his achievements with the team.
Vida Blue, a multi-award-winning player, has left an indelible mark on the Oakland A’s franchise. With his impressive career accomplishments, which included winning three championships, a Cy Young Award, and being named an MVP, as well as being selected for the All-Star team six times, Blue’s contributions to the organization cannot be overstated. His passing has left a void that will be hard to fill, and he will always be remembered as a true legend and a dear friend. His legacy will continue to inspire generations of baseball players and fans alike. May he rest in peace.