Over the course of February -- which is Black History Month -- MLB Network and MLB.com are looking back at some of the most prominent African-American players in MLB history. On Saturday, we look back on the career of former A's star Vida Blue.Before Vida Blue began a successful 17-year
Over the course of February -- which is Black History Month -- MLB Network and MLB.com are looking back at some of the most prominent African-American players in MLB history. On Saturday, we look back on the career of former A's star Vida Blue.
Before Vida Blue began a successful 17-year career in the Majors with the A's, Giants and Royals from 1969-'86, he was drafted by the Kansas City Athletics in the second round of the 1967 MLB Draft out of De Soto High School in Mansfield, La.
While Blue made his Major League debut in '69 with the A's, he started just 10 games his first two seasons. However, they weren't without some excitement. On Sept. 21, 1970, Blue got his second win of the season by tossing a no-hitter against the Twins, allowing just one walk and striking out nine batters.
It wasn't until Blue became a permanent member of the A's starting rotation in 1971 -- at the tender age of 21 -- that he had arguably one of the best seasons for a pitcher in baseball history. The left-hander went 24-8 with a 1.82 ERA, including 24 complete games and eight shutouts. Those numbers helped him win the American League Cy Young Award and AL MVP.
Blue's success as a power pitcher came from working fast and pounding the strike zone. He threw an occasional curveball to keep hitters off balance, and an above-average changeup, but his signature pitch was a blistering fastball that could dial up to 100 mph.
Blue won 20 games in '73, and along the way, became an integral member of an A's team that won three consecutive World Series championships in '72, '73 and '74. Some of his finest postseason performances were four innings of shutout relief work against the Tigers to save Game 5 of the '72 ALCS, and a complete-game shutout against the Orioles in Game 3 of the '74 ALCS.
Blue was a part of another no-hitter on Sept. 28, 1975, when he, Glenn Abbott, Paul Lindblad and Rollie Fingers combined to no-hit the California Angels.
In '77, Blue's last season with the A's, he went 14-19 with a 3.83 ERA, though he was still named to the All-Star team.
Blue moved across the Bay for the next four seasons, and became an All-Star two more times with the Giants in '80 and '81. He'd finish his career with the club in '86, going 10-10 with a 3.27 ERA.
A durable pitcher, Blue finished his career going 209-161 with a 3.27 ERA. He tossed more than 200 innings in nine separate seasons, including eight straight from '73-'80, and had double-digit wins in 11 seasons.
Quinn Roberts is a reporter for MLB.com.