Paul Blair (baseball)


Paul Blair (baseball)

Infobox MLB retired
name=Paul Blair


caption=Paul Blair in 2007
position=Outfielder
bats=Right
throws=Right
birthdate=birth date and age|1944|2|1
city-state|Cushing|Oklahoma
deathdate=
debutdate=September 9
debutyear=by|1964
debutteam=Baltimore Orioles
finaldate=June 20
finalyear=by|1980
finalteam=New York Yankees
stat1label=Batting average
stat1value=.250
stat2label=Home runs
stat2value=134
stat3label=Hits
stat3value=1,513
teams=
* Baltimore Orioles (by|1964-by|1976)
* New York Yankees (by|1977-by|1979, by|1980)
* Cincinnati Reds (by|1979)
highlights=
* 2x All-Star selection (1969, 1973)
* 8x Gold Glove Award winner (1967, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975)

Paul L D Blair (born February 1, 1944 in Cushing, Oklahoma) is a former Major League Baseball center fielder.

Blair, who batted and threw right-handed (and was a switch hitter for a very brief period of his career), played for the Baltimore Orioles (1964-76), New York Yankees (1977-79, 1980) and Cincinnati Reds (1979).

Career

Blair was originally signed by the New York Mets as an amateur free agent in by|1961. After spending the by|1962 season in their farm system, he was drafted by the Orioles in the 1962 first-year draft. He broke into the Orioles' lineup in by|1965 and, despite hitting only .234 with five home runs and 25 runs batted in, impressed many with his defensive skills. In by|1966 he batted .277 and won his first of four World Series titles. In Games Three and Four of that World Series, which the Frank Robinson-led Orioles swept from the defending champion Los Angeles Dodgers in four games, Blair played a major role in 1-0 shutouts by Wally Bunker and Dave McNally respectively, hitting a 430-foot home run off Claude Osteen in Game Three, and robbing Jim Lefebvre of an eighth-inning home run that would have tied Game Four.

In by|1967 Blair established a career high .293 batting average with 11 home runs and 64 RBIs, along with an American League-leading 12 triples. He also won the first of his eight Gold Glove Awards. After slumping to .211 in by|1968, Blair had perhaps his best season in by|1969. Batting second behind Don Buford in the Orioles' lineup, he hit .285 with career highs in home runs (26), runs batted in (76) and runs (102). He also made the All-Star team for the first time; he would repeat this feat in by|1973. His Orioles won the pennant, but lost to the Miracle Mets in the World Series. Blair went only 2-for-20 in that Series, including being the victim, in Game Three, of one of Tommie Agee's two spectacular game-saving catches (Agee had also robbed Elrod Hendricks earlier in the game). On an interesting sidenote, on that Agee catch, Blair would be the first batter Nolan Ryan would face in a World Series—the only World Series game the Hall of Fame pitcher would participate in. One of Blair's two hits came in the seventh inning of Game Two; it broke up Jerry Koosman's bid for a no-hitter.

On May 31, by|1970 Blair was beaned by California Angel pitcher Ken Tatum and suffered a broken nose. He recovered quickly, finishing the season batting .267. That year, Baltimore won another pennant and defeated the Cincinnati Reds in five games in World Series. Both Blair and Series MVP Brooks Robinson atoned for their 1969 World Series performances (Robinson went 1-for-19, the lone hit coming in Game Two, scoring Blair; he was himself the victim of a spectacular catch, by Ron Swoboda in Game Four) by tying a five-game Fall Classic record with nine hits apiece.

In by|1971 Blair took up switch-hitting but stopped after batting only .193 (11-for-57). He finished the season hitting .262. His Orioles won another pennant, but lost the World Series to the Pittsburgh Pirates in seven games.

Blair's speed going back in the outfield enabled him to play shallow, and make catches a la Willie Mays. In each of the Orioles' three consecutive World Series seasons, Blair won a Gold Glove. He would also win a Gold Glove over the next four seasons, his last Gold Glove in by|1975 coinciding with teammate Brooks Robinson winning his 16th consecutive—and last—Gold Glove at third base.

On January 20, by|1977, Blair was traded to the New York Yankees for another outfielder, Elliott Maddox. On June 18 of that year in a nationally televised game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, he was involved—though not directly—in one of the most bizarre scenes in baseball history. Yankee manager Billy Martin took right fielder Reggie Jackson out of the game and replaced him with Blair after Jackson had misplayed Jim Rice's fly ball for a double. As the cameras watched, Jackson and Martin nearly came to blows.

After winning World Series titles with the Yankees in 1977 and by|1978, Blair was released early in the by|1979 season. The Cincinnati Reds signed him as a free agent less than a month later, and Blair returned to the Yankees in May of by|1980. He retired after the Yankees released him a second time, on July 1 of that year.

In his 17-year career, Blair, whose nickname, "Motormouth," came from his talkative nature, batted .250 with 134 home runs and 620 RBIs, 1513 hits and 171 stolen bases in 1947 games played. He was also one of the top bunters in the game, recording at least 10 sacrifice hits four times in his career, including 17 during the 1975 season.

Personal life

Blair currently resides in Owings Mills, Maryland and works out at Triangle Fitness in Eldersburg, Maryland. He also bowls at Kings Point Lanes in Reisterstown, Maryland.

ee also

* Top 500 home run hitters of all time
* Major League Baseball hitters with three home runs in one game
* List of Major League Baseball triples champions


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