Pikesville, MD, United States (4E Sports) – Paul Blair, a key member of four Orioles World Series teams, died Thursday evening in Pikesville while participating in a celebrity bowling tournament.
He was 69.
Considered the best defensive outfielder in franchise history, Blair played 18 holes of golf Thursday morning and was later requested to take part in a celebrity bowling tournament.
“Paul was honestly too tired, but he never says no,” said Gloria Blair, his wife of 42 years. “During a practice round, he threw two or three balls, then sat down and told a friend, ‘I feel funny’ and kind of collapsed.”
Blair lost consciousness and was taken by the ambulance to Sinai Hospital, where doctors were unable to get a pulse.
He was a career .250 hitter with 134 homers and 171 stolen bases. He hit 17 or more homers three times and stole 20 or more bases in the same season.
The Orioles acquired him in the first-year player draft from the New York Mets in the 1962 offseason, and he made his debut in the majors at age 20 in 1964.
He spent 13 of his 17 seasons with the Orioles, winning two World Series (1966, 1970). Playing center field, he captured eight Gold Gloves, including seven consecutive from 1969 until 1975, the second-most in club history .
He earned the reputation of covering more ground than just about any outfielder in his day.
Blair also led the league in triples with 12 in 1967. He batted .474 with nine hits in the Orioles’ 1970 World Series victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
He was traded to the New York Yankees before the 1977 and played on two more World Series champions in the Bronx. He also played briefly with the Reds before ending his career in 1980 with the Yankees.
After he retired he turned to coaching with stops that included Fordham and Coppin State.
Blair also earned the nickname “Motormouth” because he never stopped talking.