MVP, Cy Young winner named Sonoma Grand Marshal

June 02, 2014, Staff report,

Bay Area great Vida Blue to give most famous words in motorsports on June 22

When a player makes a name for himself on both the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants, he tends to stick around in the minds of the Bay Area residents.

Such is the case with former southpaw great Vida Blue, who starred for both teams and will serve as Grand Marshal of the Toyota/Save Mart 350 on NASCAR Sprint Cup Series weekend from June 20-22 at Sonoma Raceway.

"I'm delighted to be honored by the raceway during NASCAR weekend, and I'm really looking forward to heading out to the track," said Blue, a 1995 Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame inductee. "This will be my first time at a NASCAR race, and I know it's going to be something special."

Blue will be honored on Friday, June 20, at the Children's Champions Grand Marshal's Banquet at Cline Cellars in Sonoma. The gala is a fundraiser for the Sonoma Chapter of Speedway Children's Charities. He will also take part in pre-race activities on Sunday, June 22, and participate in the official command of, "Drivers, Start Your Engines."

“Vida is one of the greatest competitors ever to take the mound in either league, but he's also one of the most engaging personalities in the industry and I know he's going to be a big hit with our fans at the race, regardless of their team loyalties," said Steve Page, Sonoma Raceway president and general manager.

Blue, who was a key starter for the A's three consecutive world championships in 1972-74, also helped lead a resurgent Giants franchise through a dramatic 1978 campaign following a cross-bay trade. He was the first pitcher ever to start the All-Star Game for both the American League (1971) and the National League (1978).

In 1971, Blue's first full season with Oakland, he went 24-8 with a 1.82 ERA, and earned both the Cy Young Award and Most Valuable Player Award. That year, he became the only player ever to be the starting pitcher in the league opener, the All-Star Game and the playoff opener in the same season. He was also featured on the covers of Sports Illustrated and Time magazine.

During his 17-year career, Blue pitched for the Oakland Athletics (1969-77), San Francisco Giants (1978-81; 1985-86) and Kansas City Royals (1982-83).

Since retiring from the Giants in 1986, Blue has made a name for himself as a supporter of numerous charities, particularly youth causes. Blue is especially involved with Oakland's Northern Light School, a 165-student non-profit K-8 school for Oakland kids who couldn't normally afford to go to a private school. He is currently a baseball analyst for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, the TV home of the San Francisco Giants.