Orioles Card "O" the Day

An intersection of two of my passions: baseball cards and the Baltimore Orioles. Updated daily?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Vintage Fridays: Dennis Blair, 1978 Topps #466

If you don't remember Dennis Blair, you can't be blamed. He only pitched for parts of four seasons in the major leagues with a 19-25 record and a ho-hum 3.69 ERA, and walked a few more batters than he whiffed. Then there's the inconvenient little fact that...he never pitched for the Orioles.

Your suspicions were probably stoked by the slapdash airbrush job on this card: the inauthentic thick black-and-orange stripes on the neckline, the squashed-looking Oriole bird, and the odd contrast between Blair's left ear and the skyline behind him. He looks more like a cardboard cutout than an in-the-flesh player. So what gives?

Dennis burst upon the scene as a lanky (6'5", 182 lbs.) 20-year-old rookie with the Expos in 1974. He started 22 games and went 11-7 with a 3.27 ERA that was lowest among Montreal starters. He also yielded only 7 hits per 9 innings, but that was offset by a high average of 4.4 walks per 9 innings. When the righthander's control slipped even further in his sophomore season (5.8 BB/9 IP, 0.77 K/BB), his record tumbled to 8-15 with a 3.80 ERA. The Expos sent him to AAA Denver in 1976, but his accuracy didn't improve there, and he walked 11 in 15.1 frames during a September callup to the bigs. Thus he found himself back in the minors in 1977, still scuffling and probably hoping for a fresh start.

On September 6, 1977, the Expos traded Blair to the Orioles as the ever-popular player to be named later from a mid-July deal that had sent reliever Fred Holdsworth north of the border. He remained in the O's organization for parts of three seasons, never pitching well enough to earn a return ticket to the majors. In June of 1979, the Birds finally parted ways with Dennis, swapping him to the Padres for fellow minor league pitcher Randy Fierbaugh. Blair actually appeared in 5 games for San Diego in the summer of 1980, 4 years after his last promotion. But he was knocked around in 3 of those games, and played out the string at AAA Hawaii before hanging up his spikes at age 26.

I can think of worse places to end your career.

1 comment:

dclark12 said...

He's now a wonderful special education teacher in Texas. I appreciate his hard work here even more than his brief career with the MLB