The man they called "Motormouth" is still at it, but now Paul Blair makes part of his living by talking.
Blair, who earned the nickname in the minors and maintained his reputation for loquacity in the big leagues, can be heard on the lecture circuit at Little League banquets, corporate gatherings and events sponsored by the Orioles. The speedy outfielder known in his playing days to hold forth in the clubhouse and the team bus, wherever people gathered, talks publicly about the value of education, motivation, teamwork and, of course, baseball.
"When I was with the Orioles, they used to send me around during the winter" on speaking engagements, Blair says. "I don't know why, as quiet as I am."
In February, Blair turned 50 and entered his 14th year after baseball. He lives in Owings Mills and in between speaking engagements he often can be found this time of year on the Turf Valley Country Club golf course, where he has pared his handicap down to around 10 or 12.
When not golfing, he's bowling, or playing in the Upper Deck Heroes of Baseball old-timers' games. He appears at baseball card shows on the road and in the Baltimore area, although he says, "I would think everybody in Baltimore would have my autograph by now."
He follows the Orioles on television because when he goes to the ballpark he winds up spending most of the game talking to fans or signing autographs. Blair played the last of his 12 full seasons in Baltimore in 1976, but he is still a familiar face around town.
Blair won the Gold Glove eight times in Baltimore, stole 167 bases here and still holds the team record for most triples in a season (12 in 1967). He enjoyed his best year in 1969, when he batted .285, hit 26 home runs and knocked in 76 runs. The following year, after he suffered a beaning by the California Angels' Ken Tatum, Blair's hitting declined, though in 1973 he hit .280 with 10 home runs and 64 RBIs.
After shuttling from the New York Yankees to the Cincinnati Reds and back to the Yankees in 1979 and 1980, Blair retired from baseball and went to work as a salesman and buyer for a sporting goods company in New York City. He lived in New Jersey and Long Island for 10 years, then he and his wife moved back to Maryland in 1988, seeking a slower pace of life.
When the time came to leave baseball after the 1980 season with the Yankees, Blair says, "it was really no problem. It was a situation where I wasn't playing every day. . . . Rather than tear down what I worked for for 16 years, I decided to walk away with my head up. I didn't lack anything I wanted to do in the game of baseball."