“It is with great sadness that we learned of Paul Blair's passing last evening," Orioles owner Peter Angelos said in a statement. "Paul was a key member of many of the Orioles' most memorable and successful teams ... and stayed involved with the organization through his appearances in the community and at the ballpark. On behalf of the Orioles I extend my condolences to his wife, Gloria, and his family.”
Never one to back away from a conversation, Blair was nicknamed “Motormouth,” a moniker given to him by Frank Robinson because he was always talking.
“On and off the field, he’d be yakking, yakking in the dugout,” Robinson said. “He’d keep you loose all the time. And not just talking to an individual, but also the things he’d say or do. The things he’d say he was going to do: In the clubhouse, on the bus, on the plane, whatever. One thing I’ll remember about him that has always stuck in my mind is he loved to put on the Oriole uniform. He loved the game and he wanted to go out and compete.”
Even though Blair was traded before the 1977 season to the New York Yankees and was a part of two World Series champion teams in the Bronx — he later also briefly played for the Cincinnati Reds — Blair returned to Baltimore after retirement and stayed.
He participated in celebrity golf tournaments and basketball games in the area, and was even participating in a benefit bowling tournament in Pikesville on Thursday when he collapsed and was rushed to Sinai Hospital.
Palmer said Blair was part of group of about 10 former Orioles who would play golf regularly at Turf Valley Country Club or Pine Ridge Golf Course after his retirement. Most recently, Blair was a regular at Turf Valley near his home in Woodstock.
“He was a fabulous guy,” Palmer said. “He was a part of a very special time for all of us. Paul and I came up together and when we got to Baltimore, the Colts were the big team in town. We were young and we learned a lot of lessons from them, the idea that you stuck around the area and you lived in town.”
But what Blair was most proud of was being a part of “The Oriole Way” — the ideal set by those teams that establishing a tradition of hard work and hustle would lead to winning.
“You lost an Oriole, a true Oriole passed away yesterday,” Frank Robinson said. “The players, the organization, the fans, they are going to miss him because he was an Oriole, through and through. That’s the thing I’d most want to say about him.”
Sun staff writer Dan Connolly contributed to this story