This post first appeared on BaseballDigest.com
A member of two baseball champion dynasties and a long time great defensive outfielder, Paul Blair had a career full of postseason adventures.
Drafted by the New York Mets out of Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles, California in 1961 at the age of 18, Paul Blair wasted no time on his way to the big leagues. The Baltimore Orioles swooped in and drafted the outfield in 1962 in the first year draft. After a cup of coffee in 1964, Blair reached the majors for good in 1965.
By 1966, “Motormouth” got the first taste of the postseason as a member of the World Champion Orioles, who won by sweeping the Los Angeles Dodgers 4 straight games. Within a few years, he was well known for his defensive prowess and eventually collected eight Gold Glove Awards including seven straight between 1969 and 1975. He was also named to two All-Star Games during that time.
By 1975, Paul Blair had helped the Orioles to the postseason in each season besides 1972. Though they lost the 1969 World Series to the New York Mets and the ’71 series to the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Orioles added a second title to their trophy shelf when they defeated the Cincinnati Reds in the 1970 World Series.
Blair’s overall offensive numbers began to slip by 1976 and the O’s traded their World Series hero to the New York Yankees in January of 1977. In a new role as a bit player, Blair rebounded to hit .262 in limited action. Though his numbers bottomed out during the 1978 season, Blair managed to eek out 3 hits in 8 at bats during the 1978 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Ron Mentus wrote about the incredible defensive abilities of Paul Blair in this June 1992 issue of Baseball Digest. Click here to check it out!
“Motormouth” was released by the Yankees in 1979, picked up by the Cincinnati Reds, and then once again signed by the Yankees briefly in 1980 before retiring. In retirement, he went on to coach at the minor league and collegiate level, and was last seen coaching Coppin State University in 2002.
Also Celebrating A Birthday Today:
Tim Naehring, born on February 1 1967, was an eight year veteran with the Boston Red Sox and had his injury plagued career cut short by a shoulder injury. He was a member of the 1995 AL East title winning team, and hit .308 against the Cleveland Indians in a losing effort in the Division Series, including a go ahead home run in the 11th inning of Game 1. Naehring was on pace for a career year in 1997 when his season came to an abrupt end. Since retirement, he has worked in player development for the Cincinnati Reds and New York Yankees.
Kent Mercker, born in 1968, played seventeen big league seasons with nine different teams. He was a member of the pitching staff of the early 1990’s Atlanta Braves and helped secure their 1995 World Series Championship. He threw the most recent no hitter for the Atlanta Braves on April 8th, 1994. He also played a part in another no hitter, combining with two other pitchers on September 11th, 1991 to no hit the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was the recipient of the Tony Conigliaro Award in 2000 following his recovery from a cerebral hemorrhage. Since retiring, he has served a broadcaster for the Cincinnati Reds.