After former Orioles outfielder Paul Blair’s baseball career was over, he often could be found on the golf course at Turf Valley Country Club in Ellicott City.
Blair, who will be memorialized today, made a name for himself as one of the best defensive center fielders of his era, but there was no doubt that one of his post-playing passions was golf.
He began playing at Turf Valley while playing for the Orioles in the early 1970s and had been a member of the club since 1978. Nicknamed “Motormouth” by Orioles Hall of Famer Frank Robinson because he never stopped talking, Blair was always looking to gather a group on the course in retirement.
“He was a real organizer at the club,” said Nick Spinnato, Turf Valley’s director of golf. “He got everybody together. He played almost daily. People would sit around and talk and say, ‘What are we going to do tomorrow?’ and Paul would say, ‘I don’t have a job, and this is what I’m going to do.’ He was definitely going to play golf, and he was able to get everyone together.”
In fact, two days after Blair’s Dec. 26 death, about 30 to 40 members assembled at the club at noon to play a round in his honor.
“It’s weird to not see him here,” Spinnato said.
“He had a lot of friends here,” he added. “He played golf all the time. I played with him all the time. To tell you the truth, it wasn’t about the celebrity and the tremendous MLB accolades. It was more personal with us here, just more as a person.”
Blair was known for participating in numerous charity events in the Baltimore area, and Turf Valley's annual Celebrity Pro-Am Golf Tournament benefiting Easter Seals was special to him, Spinnato said. And he was a good golfer. Several times this year, at the age of 69, he shot rounds of 75.
From seeing readers' comments on stories during the days following Blair's death, the great impact he had on many in the Baltimore area is clear. There likely will be a lot more stories about Blair, from on and off the field, during today’s memorial.
Following a private memorial service, a public ceremony will be held today at Ruck Funeral Home, 1050 York Road, Towson, from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Blair’s family is asking that memorial contributions be sent in his name to St. Jude Children’s Hospital, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, Tenn., 38105.