Former Baltimore Orioles outfielder Paul Blair has died at the age of 69.
Blair died Thursday night at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore after losing consciousness at a celebrity bowling tournament in Pikesville Thursday morning, according to Blair’s wife, Gloria.
“Paul was honestly too tired, but he never says no,” Gloria Blair told The Baltimore Sun. “During a practice round, he threw two or three balls, then sat down and told a friend, ‘I feel funny’ and kind of collapsed. He lost consciousness and they called 911 and the ambulance took him to (Sinai), but the doctors there told me they never got a pulse.”
Paul Blair, who was originally drafted by the New York Mets before heading to the Orioles in late 1962, was quite a popular player for the Orioles when he played for them from 1964 to 1976, and is a member of the Orioles Hall of Fame. He was a key factor in helping Baltimore win the World Series in 1966 and again in 1970. He went on to win two more titles with the New York Yankees in 1977 and 1978, and played for Cincinnati.
“He played very shallow. People talked about how Willie Mays played shallow, and Paul did the same thing. He played with assuredness,” Don Buford, an All-Star left fielder who played alongside Blair for five seasons in Baltimore.
“When you talk about the greatest defensive center fielders, he was right in the mix,” Buford said. “With me in left and Frank Robinson in right, we played toward the lines and gave him a lot of room. He could really go get it.”
Blair led the Orioles in the 1970 World Series with a .474 batting average, helping the team to win over Cincinnati.
Blair ended his 17-year baseball career in the majors with a .250 batting average, 134 home runs, 620 RBIs and 171 stolen bases. He won Gold Gloves in 1967 and from 1969 to 1975.
[Photo Credit: wallyg]