Friday, April 15, 2011
#510 - Vida Blue
Card fact: Possibly the most representative card of the entire 1970s. The most colorful card set of its time, featuring the most colorful team of its time, featuring the most colorful name of its time. You can't get more colorful than this card.
What I thought about this card then: I saw it on my first trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame. One of the exhibits was a display of every baseball card from the 1975 set, since it was the most recent Topps set at the time. I saw the Vida Blue card for the first time and was mesmerized. I eventually ordered it through a catalog because I could not stop thinking about it.
What I think about this card now: The photo is one of the most majestic in the set, right up there with the Nolan Ryan record-breaker card.
Other stuff: I could write for a long time about Blue, but I'll whittle his career accomplishments down to his break-out 1971 season (24-8, 1.82 ERA, Cy Young Award and MVP), the fact that he is the only pitcher to start for both the American and National leagues, that he is a three-time World Series champion, and he was one of the hardest-throwing left-handers to ever play the game.
My first association with Blue is pulling the 1971 MVPs card from the 1975 set out of one of the first packs I purchased. But my first recognition of who Blue was didn't happen until 1976 when commissioner Bowie Kuhn prevented A's owner Charlie Finley from selling Blue to the Yankees. I remember reading about the saga in the newspaper.
Blue later hit the paper for his involvement with drugs, testifying in the Pittsburgh drug trials. After his career ended in 1986, he started to work in the community, and has worked for several charitable causes. At one point in the early 1990s, he came through my area of the country to speak in his wife's hometown. I don't know if Blue is still married to this woman, but I always thought it odd that someone from a hick northern town would be married to Vida Blue.
Back facts: Nobody wore a glove until 1875??? It's a wonder this game ever caught on. Charles Waite was a first baseman for the Boston Red Stockings. He wore a flesh-colored glove so no one would notice.
Also, regarding Vida Blue's sparking 1-0 shutout: I think it would've been more impressive if he was behind hitters throughout. Otherwise, it's redundant.
Other blog stuff: The pink-yellow border combination is now within two cards of catching overall color combo leader, orange-brown. I never would have figured pink-yellow would have the most cards in the set, but it could happen.