The 40 Greatest Orioles of All-Time - No. 15 - Paul Blair

15. Paul Blair, OF (1964-1976)

All-Star: 1969, 1973
Gold Glove: 1967, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975

Paul Blair was born on February 1, 1944, in Cushing, Oklahoma, and was signed by the Mets in 1961. Blair was then drafted by the Orioles from the Mets in the 1962 first-year draft, and he'd stay an Oriole for all of his best years.

Blair is most famous for playing extremely shallow in center field, with good speed that allowed him to go backwards easily. He won the Gold Glove every year from 1967 through 1975, except for 1968. Blair became a regular in '67, though he had played pretty regularly in '65 and '66. In the 1966 World Series, Blair hit a home run in game three, his one hit in six at-bats during the Series.

In '67, Blair hit .293/.353/.446 with 11 homers, 64 RBI, 27 doubles and 12 triples. For being as fast as he was, he was never much of a base-stealer, with a career high of 27 in 1974 and 20 or more only three times.

Blair's best season, by OPS+, was 1967, but his most productive year was probably 1969, when he hit .285/.327/.477 with 32 doubles, 26 homers, 20 steals, 102 runs scored and 178 hits in 150 games.

In 1970, Blair was beaned by Ken Tatum and suffered some serious injuries to his eye. He had trouble psychologically at the plate and even tried hypnotherapy. In 1971, he attempted switch-hitting, but went 11-for-57 and stopped.

Blair stayed with the Orioles through the 1976 season. In 1975, he started to really go downhill in a hurry at age 31, hitting .218/.257/.300 in 440 at-bats, and in 1976 he was even worse, with a .197/.245/.264 line in 375 at-bats. He was traded to the Yankees on January 20, 1977, for Elliott Maddox and Rick Bladt. He was a reserve for New York for two seasons, and then was released just into the 1979 season. After a month off, he signed with the Reds. He did nothing for them, then went back to New York for 1980. He played in 12 games as a defensive replacement (just two at-bats), and retired after that year at age 36.

Blair had two really great postseason series for the Orioles in his career. In the '69 ALCS with Minnesota, he hit .400/.471/.733 with a homer and six RBI, and in the 1979 World Series against the Reds, he hit .474/.524/.526 and scored five runs. Overall for the Orioles, Blair was a part of six playoff teams. He played in five World Series in his career: 1966, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1977 and 1978.

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