Today in Royals History: Vida in Royals Blue

Vida Blue - Topps 1982

Vida Blue makes his Royals debut with a complete game on April 11, 1982.

Late in spring training in 1982, the Royals and Giants swung a deal meant to shore up the Royals rotation. The Giants sent former AL Cy Young Award winner and MVP Vida Blue and Bob Tufts to Kansas City in exchange for Atlee Hammaker, Renie Martin, Craig Chamberlain and a player to be named later (Brad Wellman).

Blue was the centerpiece of the deal. He was coming off his age 31 season in 1981 and finished the year with a 2.45 ERA and a 140 ERA+. He was regarded as one of the top pitchers in the game, was the ace of the Giants rotation and by all accounts was the most popular player on the club.

Still, that didn't prevent him from burning a bridge or two on his way out of the Bay Area. "This organization appears to not have any direction. I don't mean to sound like I'm bad mouthing, but you've got to have a game plan and it didn't seem like we have one," Blue told reporters after being informed of the deal. "I'm going to a class organization. Kansas City enhances my chances of going to a World Series. They have a real good ballclub."

Blue arrived in Kansas City with a bit of baggage. Word was he was overweight, had lost his fastball and could no longer complete a game.

This was a bit of a concern. Blue was signed for the next two seasons with an average annual salary of close to $800,000.

He momentarily answered those critics in his Royal debut against the Tigers on April 11, 1982. Blue tossed a complete game, losing 2-1. The Tigers plated their runs in the fourth when Enos Cabell and Kirk Gibson hit back to back doubles leading off the inning. Gibson advanced to third on Jerry Martin's error on the throw to home and was able to score on Larry Herndon's sacrifice fly to center.

The Royals lone run came on a George Brett home run.

Blue's tenure in Kansas City was less successful. He whiffed five batters per nine, but walked four per game. His home run rate ballooned and he threw just 181 innings, his lowest total in a full season since 1972. He finished with an 3.78 ERA and 107 ERA+ and completed six games.

He was released by the club on August 5, 1983, in a move the Royals said cost the team close to a half-million dollars. His ERA was 6.01 as he bounced between the rotation and the bullpen. On August 10, 1983, it was revealed he was under investigation by the FBI for cocaine use.

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