Vintage Baseball Cards: Vida Blue and Gene Tenace

vida blue and gene tenace 1970 cropBaseball cards in some form have been around for over a century.

They’ve been in my house for over 40 years. I remember sitting in the front yard under a tree sorting them by teams. My grandfather and I built a big wooden box to store them under my bed. It seemed to be a project for my mother as much as it was for me.

Baseball cards offer a glimpse into history from a bygone era, especially those that are considered vintage. Periodically in this forum, I am going to write about some of my favorite cards.

The next card in this ongoing series is the Topps Rookie Card from 1970 featuring Vida Blue and Gene Tenace.

Many of the Topps Rookie Cards are sometimes filled with players who one has to look up find out information because they are not well known.

Often times it takes many years for a rookie card to become important. As members of the Oakland A’s dynasty during the 1970s, Blue and Tenace didn’t waste any time in making their card fun for collectors to own.

Blue tossed a no-hitter with Tenace behind the plate to set the tone for several years of excellence for the A’s on Sept. 21, 1970. The A’s beat the Minnesota Twins 6-0 in Oakland with the only blemish being a fourth-inning walk to Harmon Killebrew.

On the last day of the 1975 season on Sept. 28, the duo contributed to a second no-hitter. Blue worked the first five frames of a 5-0 Oakland win at California. Glenn Abbott and Paul Lindblad each tossed an inning before Rollie Fingers worked the last two to preserve the combined effort. Tenace caught the first six innings with Ray Fosse taking his place for the final three.

While with the A’s, Blue and Tenace were part of three straight World Series titles from 1972-1974 and five American League West Division crowns starting in 1971.

In 1970, Blue had a 2-0 record in six contests, while Tenace appeared in 38 games hitting seven homers and 20 RBI with a batting average of .305.

Blue played in Oakland from 1969-1977 before he moved to the San Francisco Giants from 1978-1981. In 1982 and 1983, he pitched for the Kansas City Royals before ending his 17-year career with a second stint in San Francisco in 1985-1986.

The 1971 season was the best for Blue. He was the AL’s starting pitcher in the All-Star Game before he claimed the league’s Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Awards after posting a 24-8 record with an ERA of 1.82.

A six-time all-star, Blue started for the National League in 1978 as he was working on an 18-10 season for the Giants. He was also a 20-game winner on three occasions and had a 209-161 record in his career.

Tenace hit 201 homers in his career that began in Oakland from 1969-1976. He played for the San Diego Padres from 1977-1980 before moving on to St. Louis from 1981-1982. His last season was in 1983 with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

A highlight in Tenace’s career was being named the World Series MVP in 1972 after hitting two homers in his first two at bats in game one against the Cincinnati Reds. His only all-star appearance came in 1975 when he hit 29 long balls with 87 RBI as the A’s won their last division title.

Tenace was a part of a fourth world championship team with the Cardinals in 1982.

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