Got the awful news tonight that Paul Blair, my all-time favorite Oriole, my baseball role model as CF, died tonight at age 69. RIP #6 #Class
— HallandaleBeachBlog (@hbbtruth) December 27, 2013
So very, very sad at the news Thursday night that the former Oriole legend and masterful centerfielder died Thursday night while bowling in suburban Pikesville.
Paul Blair was my all-time favorite Oriole, the baseball player I most patterned myself on as a Centerfielder in Little League and Pony League in North Miami Beach's Optimist League, just as it often seemed to me years later that Ken Griffey Jr. would pattern himself on years later -playing shallow in CF- after watching Paul while his Dad and Paul were teammates on the Yankees of the late '70's, which earned paul two more World Series rings for a total of four.
One year, when one of my Pony League teams got new uniforms but all the numbers started in the fifties -like we were all minor league pitchers who'd only be at spring training for a few weeks before going back to our minor league teams- I quickly grabbed #51 out of the box and ripped-off the shrink wrap because 5 + 1 = 6, Paul Blair's jersey number.
My last two years of playing NMB Optimist Football in the mid-1970's, for the 115-pound team, though I was primarily a defensive end and special teams player, I also wore #6 because...
Plus, like him, I was the fastest player on my team.
The Hall of Fame remembers former #Orioles, #Yankees and #Reds center fielder Paul Blair, who passed… http://t.co/SaGlfDqD9Y
— Baseball Hall (@BaseballHall) December 27, 2013
Photo of Paul Blair at Orioles spring training HQ at Miami Stadium, Miami, FL.
Paul Blair was the one player I studied intensely on so many days and nights at O's exhibition games at Miami Stadium in the 1970's -with family and friends- when they were in their glory days, and I was looking for any hint of how to do things the right way -The Oriole Way, because that's how I wanted to do it, too.
Paul Blair was always smiling, always friendly to fans, always hustling and always a great teammate.
R.I.P. #6 #Class
Very sad to hear about tonights passing of @Orioles Hall of Famer Paul Blair. #RIPPaulBlair pic.twitter.com/uCz9c9HwyZ
— Dugout Legends (@DugoutLegends) December 27, 2013
Here's a quick blog post on the grasp Paul Blair and his tremendous CF play had on Baltimore during the glory days: http://t.co/KDqPQmjYuT
— Dan Connolly (@danconnollysun) December 27, 2013
And here is the updated news story on the death of Paul Blair: http://t.co/IBqh0rPwON
— Dan Connolly (@danconnollysun) 151151177728">December 27, 2013
Just how good a CF was Paul Blair? His 18.6 career defensive WAR ranks 2nd all-time among fulltime CFs (Andruw Jones, 24.1). #Orioles
— Eduardo A. Encina (@EddieInTheYard) December 27, 2013
Rip my friend for 42 years..the GREAT and I mean great Paul Blair. pic.twitter.com/jCrOSnj2fn
— Roy Firestone (@RoyFirestone) December 27, 2013
Above, former Baltimore Colt RB/Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinee Lenny Moore, broadcaster Roy Firestone and former Orioles center fielder Paul Blair on Brooks Robinson Day, for the unveiling of the larger-than-life bronze sculpture of the Oriole Hall of Fame third baseman outside Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Sept. 29, 2012, Baltimore, MD.Few would know how true this was more than Roy, whom I first met 41 years ago.
As I've written here before, at the time, Roy was a University of Miami student and was also working for Channel 4 Sports back when it was still Ralph Renick's WTVJ-TV, and their Sports Dept. was the class and envy of the state.
I was an 11-year old camper at the Bob Griese-Karl Noonan boys sports camp up in Boca Raton, where Roy was a counselor who soon became a friend because of his sense of humor, common sense and amazing knowledge of the same things I was most-interested in: sports, journalism and films.
When I was a senior at North Miami Beach High School and he was already working out in Los Angeles at KNX-TV, Roy was also one of the many people I spoke to and respected who recommended that I attend Syracuse and the S.I. Newhouse School of Communication, the home of so much of ESPN and the sports television and marketing establishment of the past thirty years.
But after things didn't work out financial aid-wise for my longtime first choice, The University of Southern California (USC) -who offered me a great deal of financial aid , but still not enough for me to swing it financially from Miami to Los Angeles, especially given how expensive it was to fly back and forth from LA to Miami back then- I went to IU, knowing only one person in the whole state of indiana, and they weren't in Bloomington.
Syracuse just seemed too cold and isolated for me.