Vida Blue was one of my baseball idols growing up. He was with the A’s and then the Giants throughout my childhood. I remember actually crying when the Giants traded him to Kansas City before the 1982 season. He was the one guy who was in the Bay Area playing for my teams from the time I could remember all the way up to then. McCovey had retired. Catfish was long gone. Vida was the last one. So I took it kinda hard.
He ran into trouble in KC…part of the infamous cocaine trials of the mid-1980s that scarred baseball for a time. But he paid the price, got straight, and a few years later was back in the Bay Area again, with the Giants to finish his career. And later he went to work in the Giants front office – community relations and such – for many years. He still works with the Giants and last year appeared on TV with Comcast SportsNet Bay Area too.
Anyway, I finally got to meet him when I got him to appear at a fundraiser I ran at Fullerton College in 1995. I met a lot of ballplayers over the years, but this photo from that day in ’95 takes me right back to when I was seven years old listening to A’s games on my little Radio Shack transistor radio, or when I was 11 and following every pitch of Vida’s first year with the Giants. For a kid who grew up idolizing a very, very few players, this one was special.
I got to meet Vida again several times over the next few years, at Giants events I attended and at A’s events my company at the time sponsored. While those were business, and a pleasure, the excitement of that first meeting in 1995 was captured pretty well in that old photo. Every now and then, it’s great to feel like a kid again.
Yes, one little part of me is still that kid playing Whiffle ball in the front yard, pretending I’m the next Johnny Bench or Vida Blue…