USA TODAY Sports Weekly

Six-time All-Star, three-time World Series champion Blue dead at 73

- Steve Gardner

Left-handed pitcher Vida Blue, who won the 1971 AL Cy Young and MVP awards as a 21-year-old and was a member of three World Series championsh­ip teams with the Oakland Athletics, has died at the age of 73.

Blue’s death was confirmed on May 7 by the team in a statement that called him “a franchise legend and a friend.”

Blue made his MLB debut with the Athletics as a teenager in 1969, but he didn’t make an impact until his breakout season two years later. On a powerful Oakland team that included the likes of Reggie Jackson, Catfish Hunter and Sal Bando, Blue emerged as the A’s best player – going 24-8 on the mound with a league-leading eight shutouts and 1.82 ERA.

Blue went on to win 124 games and make three All-Star Game appearance­s with the A’s, helping lead them to World Series titles in 1972, 1973 and 1974.

In 1978, Blue was traded across the Bay to the San Francisco Giants, where he earned three more All-Star berths in four seasons. In his first season with the Giants, he became the first pitcher in baseball history to start the All-Star Game for both leagues, after getting the nod with the A’s in 1971.

Since then, four other pitchers – Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Roy Halladay and Max Scherzer – have accomplish­ed the feat.

Blue spent two years with the Kansas City Royals before he was released and ordered to serve three months in federal prison for cocaine possession. After sitting out two seasons, Blue returned to the majors for two final years with the Giants, before retiring after the 1986 season.

He finished with a record of 209-161 and a 3.27 career ERA.

His death was mourned by many in the baseball community, including protege Dave Stewart, an All-Star and fourtime 20-game winner with the A’s.

“Vida Blue rest in peace, my mentor, hero, and friend,” Stewart wrote on Twitter. “There are no words for what you have meant to me and so many others.”

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