Paul Blair, an eight-time Gold Glove centerfielder who was one of the greatest defensive outfielders to ever play the game, died of a heart attack today. He was 69.
Blair started his career in the New York Mets organization, and then went to the Baltimore Orioles in the "1962 first year draft." I don't know what that was.
He broke into the big leagues in 1964 as a 20 year old, and from 1965-1976 was a regular on those great Baltimore Orioles teams that gave rise to the phrase "The Oriole Way." Blair played several seasons along with Mark Belanger and Brooks Robinson, and I doubt that a team has ever had an extended run with three better defenders than the Orioles with those three.
Blair had an eight year run, from 1967-74, where he was a legitimate star, putting up a 37.6 bWAR and a 34.7 fWAR over that 8 year span. He played out the string with the Yankees and the Reds as a defensive specialist, but in his prime, he was one of the top players in the game.