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Elephant Rumblings: Remembering Vida Blue

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OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 1972: Pitcher Vida Blue #35 of the Oakland Athletics pitches during the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds at Oakland Coliseum on October 1972 in Oakland, California. 
Photo by Focus on Sport via Getty Images

It’s Monday, Athletics Nation.

Sunday was a sad day for A’s fans and all of Major League Baseball. Legendary A’s starter Vida Blue died at the age of 73 per the A’s and the Blue family.

No cause of death was disclosed, though Blue had been dealing with unspecified health issues per Matt Kawahara at the San Francisco Chronicle.

Blue was among the franchise’s all-time great starting pitchers. He was a key part of the dynastic A’s rotation in the 70s, winning 20 or more games in three of the A’s five consecutive AL West winning campaigns from 1971-75.

Blue’s 1971 rookie season made him the stuff of legend at the age of 21. He threw over 300 innings, struck out over 300 batters, won the AL Cy Young award, and became the youngest league MVP in baseball’s modern era.

The A’s have had many great pitchers through the Oakland era, but none have matched the dominance that Blue exhibited in that ‘71 season—not even teammate and legendary Hall of Famer Catfish Hunter.

Blue should be right next to Hunter in the Hall of Fame. Both won multiple championships and pitched over 3,000 career regular season innings. They had nearly identical lifetime ERAs (Hunter 3.26, Blue 3.27), but Blue’s lifetime fWAR exceeded Hunter’s by a dozen and he struck out over 400 more batters than the revered Catfish. Blue was the first pitcher ever to have started an All-Star game for both the AL and NL.

Another great A’s pitcher was among many honoring Blue yesterday:

Blue was traded to the Giants in 1978 and played most of his remaining career on the other side of the bay, where he was also honored on Sunday.

Blue was on hand and in good spirits at the recent 1973 World Series Championship reunion at the Coliseum. That occasion has become all the more poignant now that we know it was a goodbye of sorts for Blue.

Athletics Nation honors the late, great, legendary Vida Blue! Rest in peace and power.

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No more words. Just Vida Blue.