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Vida Blue, 3-time World Series champion and Oakland A's Hall of Fame pitcher, dies at 73

Vida Blue, a decorated MLB pitcher and crucial member of the Oakland Athletics' World Series three-peat from 1972 to '74, has died, the team announced Sunday. He was 73.

"There are few players with a more decorated career than Vida Blue," the A's said in a statement. "He was a three-time champion, an MVP, a six-time All-Star, a Cy Young Award winner and an Oakland A's Hall of Famer. Vida will always be a franchise legend and a friend. We send our deepest condolences to his family and friends during this arduous time."

Blue spent nine of his 17 seasons in Oakland. He also pitched for the San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals.

The lefty had a historic season in 1971, going 24-8 with a 1.82 ERA and 301 strikeouts over 312 innings. That earned him AL Cy Young and MVP honors in his third MLB season.

FILE - This 1976 file photo shows Oakland A's Vida Blue, the hard-throwing left-hander who became one of baseball's biggest draws in the early 1970's and helped lead brash Oakland Athletics to three straight World Series titles. Blue has died. He was 73. The A's said Blue died Saturday, May 6, 2023 but did not give a cause of death. (AP Photo)
Oakland A's left-handed legend Vida Blue has died. (AP Photo) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Blue also made his first All-Star Game that year, and he and the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Dock Ellis became the first two African American pitchers to start in the event.

“I don’t know what [that game] did for baseball, but it gave the Black community a chance to be proud of having two Black pitchers start an All-Star Game,” Blue told Andscape in 2019.

He went on to garner five more All-Star nods. He was traded to the Giants in a seven-player swap in 1978 and played for San Francisco until 1981, then spent the 1982 and '83 seasons in Kansas City. He missed time in 1983 and '84 as he dealt with a drug addiction, eventually returning to the Giants for the following two years.

After the 1983 season, Blue and several former teammates pled guilty to attempting to purchase cocaine. Blue later told the San Francisco Chronicle that he believed his drug problems barred him from the Hall of Fame.

"I had some issues in my life that might have had a tendency to sway voting," Blue said. "There are some guys in the Hall of Fame who don't have halos."

Blue stayed close to the game in retirement. Most recently, he was an analyst for Giants broadcasts.

Fellow great A's pitcher Dave Stewart tweeted his condolences. "Rest in peace, my mentor, hero, and friend," he wrote.

Blue and other members of the 1973 World Series team were honored by the Athletics in April. The reunion ceremony commemorated the 50th anniversary of the victory.

Former Oakland Athletics Vida Blue, Gene Tenace and Joe Rudi were honored in a ceremony in April. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Former Oakland Athletics Vida Blue, Gene Tenace and Joe Rudi were honored in a ceremony in April. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

The A's, Giants and Royals shared tributes to Blue on Sunday.

Two of his former teams, the Athletics and Royals, finish a three-game series on Sunday at Kauffman Stadium.