Today I was chatting with the dishwasher repairman (very cool guy) when my wife comes in with a package. I see it's from GCRL, but obviously have to wait. And wait some more as we go get plants for the garden. 5 hours later this is one of the awesome cards in the package, which included several '76 and '73 needs, Crawford, and a 1977 Blue.
Vida Blue is one of the more under appreciated pitchers from the early '70s. His lifetime stats compare favorably with the HOFer Catfish Hunter, though I'm not sure whether that says more about how good Blue was or how dubious Catfish's election was. Maybe a little of both.
His finest year was 1971, when he won both the Cy Young and the MVP, finishing 24-8 with 24 complete games, a 1.82 ERA, and a 0.95 WHIP. Those stats are insane for anyone in any era.
On a personal level, he's also one of the guys my dad followed when I was growing up. Vintage was so tough to get in my region when I was a kid, and when I was 10 I once let a guy pay me for 3 solid days worth of yard work in 1971 Topps. I used the opportunity to pick up a very poor condition 1971 Vida Blue (among other cards). My parents were furious (justifiably so, I guess) and now that I'm older I can really appreciate how shrewd that cat was: going by high book value he let me pick out $100 worth of poor, poor condition cards from his doubles (excluding "stars" like Reggie Jackson and Nolan Ryan) that were worth significantly less than $100 then and now.
Anyway, I couldn't have been more excited to take the Blue home and show it to my dad (also scored the Blyleven RC---$50 BV!!!). Which leads me to another story: growing up I lived pretty far away Atlanta, but we managed to get to the Atl every other summer or so for a game. In '86 the Giants were in town, and my dad walked me down near the left field foul line to try for any autos. Sure enough, I got Vida Blue to sign a brand new baseball from the Braves clubhouse store. It's one of the best memories I have of being a kid, if only because I vaguely remember my dad being in absolute awe of the man putting his name on the ball. I mean, it's one thing for your parents to have "heroes" and to talk about them, but seeing one's parents standing in front of those same heroes produces a strange kind of vertigo, almost like you get a glimpse of your parent as a child.
Years ago I retraced the faded signature on the ball, (how didn't UD see that coming with the SweetSpot autos? have they ever seen a signature on a baseball fade?) but the last time I was home I noticed it was once again a shadow of itself. Getting cards like this 1972 Vida Blue is even better, because it allows you to tracing the memory itself.
Many thanks GCRL!
And don't forget the Cy giveaway! Only 48 hours left.