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Vida Blue, who won 3 World Series in a row with the Oakland Athletics, dies at 73

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.
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AP
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.

Vida Blue, a left-handed pitcher who helped lead the Oakland Athletics to three World Series championships in a row from 1972 to 1974 and made six All-Star teams, died Saturday at age 73, according to his family and Major League Baseball.

The franchise did not announce a cause of death.

"It is with great sadness that the Blue family mourn the passing of our beloved father Vida Blue," the family said in a statementshared by the Oakland Athletics. "Vida was a great father, grandfather, brother, friend, and teammate who will be forever cherished, honored, and loved."

Blue was picked in the second round of the 1967 Major League Baseball draft, and made his major league debut at the age of 19 in 1969. In his first two seasons, Blue played 18 games, but found his spark in 1970 when he threw a no-hitter against the Kansas City Royals, becoming the youngest player to do so since the Live Ball Era began in 1920, according to MLB.

The following year, he had a 24-8 season with a 1.82 earned run average and 301 strikeouts over 312 innings. He won the AL Cy Young and MVP Awards, becoming the fifth player in history to win both honors in the same year.

"There are few players with a more decorated career than Vida Blue," the Oakland Athletics said. "Vida will always be a franchise legend and a friend. We send our deepest condolences to his family and friends during this time."

Blue was born in Mansfield, Louisiana, on July 28, 1949 to Vida Blue Sr. and Sallie Blue. He was the oldest of six.

In high school, Blue played both baseball and football, as a quarterback, but ultimately chose to pursue baseball after his father's death.

He was with the Athletics for nine seasons before being traded to the San Francisco Giants in 1978. By that time, he had made three All-Star teams, and made three more with the Giants.

He was traded to the Kansas City Royals in March 1982 and released from the team that August. In December of that year, he was sentenced to three months in prison for possession of cocaine. He was suspended by the league and missed the 1984 season.

After returning to the sport, he was reinstated by the Giants from 1985 to 1986, and then shortly played with the A's again after becoming a free agent, but retired in 1987.

Ultimately, Blue finished his 17-year career with a 209-161 record, a 3.27 ERA, 2,175 strikeouts, 143 complete games and 37 shutouts over about 3,300 innings, according to MLB.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ayana Archie