- CF, OF, LF, 3B, DH, 1B, RF, 2B, SS
- February 1, 1944
- 168 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 9-09-1964 with BAL
- Allstar Selections:
- 1967 GG, 1969 GG, 1970 GG, 1971 GG, 1972 GG, 1973 GG, 1974 GG, 1975 GG
An eight-time Gold Glove Award winner, Paul Blair was the best defensive center fielder in the American League in the late 1960s and early 1970s. With uncanny instincts and great speed, Blair positioned himself perfectly, often gliding in to shallow center to snare would-be singles. He had several great moments in the post-season, including a game-winning homer in Game Three of the 1966 World Series, and a leaping catch the next day to prevent a home run. He recovered from a beaning in 1970 to play another decade, and he earned four World Series rings, two with the Orioles and two with the Yankees.
"I never saw Paul Blair's first step." Earl Weaver, on Blair's amazing range in center field.
"Earl [Weaver] and Billy [Martin] were a lot alike. Both were fiery and competitive. But there was one big difference: Earl was forgiving. Billy held a drudge. Once you got into Billy's doghouse, you were there to stay."
Al Bumbry, another product of the rich Baltimore farm system, who had caddied for Blair for a few years, and also filled in at left field when needed. Bumbry had won the 1973 Al Rookie of the Year Award, but still had a hard time cracking the deep Baltimore starting lineup. He was quick like Blair, could bunt well, and had fine range in center, but he lacked the instincts that Blair had in the outfield.
Blair set career-highs in at-bats, hits, runs, doubles, homers, and RBI. He hit .400 on the AL Playoffs, but struggled in the World Series, going 2-for-20.
Center fielder Paul Blair is the only outfielder to ever win a Gold Glove for the Baltimore Orioles.
After the 1976 season, Blair wanted out of Baltimore. The shoddy way in which Brooks Robinson had been treated, and other moves, had soured him on the Oriole front office. He requested a trade, and was dealt to the Yanks for Elliott Maddox and Rick Bladt.
His positioning in center, his range, and his speed and bunting skills.
Ability to handle the outside pitch. Blair, by his own admission, was too stubborn to hit the outside pitch the other way. He was a pull-hitter who loved the inside fastball. When he popped 26 homers in 1969, he abandoned any notion of spraying the ball around to increase his average.
Blair set a World Series record with nine hits in the five-game 1970 World Series.
As a teenager out of Los Angeles, Blair was a skinny six-footer. He added muscle as he matured in the minors. He was lean and fast, and had quick wrists. He was known as a great fastball hitter, who liked the ball inside. He crowded the plate, which is one reason he was hit by Tatum's pitch in 1970.
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