« The Chickens Come Home To Roost | Main | Playing With a Purpose »

The Ones Who Got Away - Paul Blair

Barry DuchanSunday, August 19, 2007
By Barry Duchan


Editor's Note: We will publish a post from Barry Duchan every Sunday covering some aspect of Mets history. - M.S.

In their long history, the Mets have had more than their share of young players who were dealt away and became stars with other teams. Nolan Ryan and Amos Otis are probably the 2 names mentioned most often. And the trading of future MVP's Kevin Mitchell and Jeff Kent were in retrospect, major mistakes, too.

But the very first star the Mets let get away was Paul Blair who became nothing less than the premier centerfielder in the American League for 10 years while the Mets were constantly trying to fill the void. The Mets tried Jim Hickman, Johnny Lewis, Billy Cowan, and Don Bosch among others before landing Tommie Agee to fill the role nicely for a couple of years. Then, the drought began again with the likes of Don Hahn, Dave Schneck, Jim Gosger and Del Unser getting most of the playing time in centerfield while Blair and then Otis were still among the best centerfielders in the game.

Blair had always been a shortstop, until he got into the minor leagues. The Orioles made him a full-time outfielder, and he quickly became the top non-pitching prospect in their organization. The Dodgers refused to sign Blair out of high school, because they thought he was too small to make it the big leagues. He was signed by the Mets originally, for a $2,000 bonus. He played one year for the Mets' Santa Barbara club in the California League in 1962, batting .228 while playing both infield and outfield.

The Mets didn't have many prospects following the 1962 season, so their failure to protect Blair by putting him on the 40-man roster is tough to excuse. Obviously, the Orioles saw something in him that the Mets didn't and drafted him as a first-year player for $8,000 while the Mets were still searching for anyone who could play centerfield.

Blair went on to have an excellent career. While his hitting was never his strong suit, in 1969, Blair hit .276 with 26 HR's and 76 RBI. Oddly, the exact HR and RBI totals that Tommie Agee put up for the Mets, and with a better average than Agee. And of course, Blair had a much longer and more consistent career than Agee. So, letting Blair go was a mistake of major proportions. Especially when you figure that if the Mets had kept Blair, there would have been no reason to make deals for Cowan, Bosch, or Agee. So, the Mets could have used what trading chips they had for help in other areas.

When you talk about the ones that got away, no doubt Nolan Ryan will head that list, but Blair should be right behind him.

Note: More of Barry Duchan's writings can be found on his own Metscentric blog.

About Barry Duchan: I've been following the Mets since 1962. Have to admit I was a Yankee fan as a kid, but I found it to be so much more interesting to see how a young team could build itself up rather than following a team where the season didn't really begin until October. I remember them all - Casey, Marv, ChooChoo, Don Bosch, The Stork, etc. As the years went on, I became more and more of a Mets fan, and a Yankee hater once Steinbrenner and Billy Martin entered the picture.   Read More -->

Support Mike's Mets by shopping at our Amazon Store

More Mets Stories:
SportsSpyder Mets

Continuous Mets Coverage:
MetsBlog
Hot Foot

Comments (1)

This is an excellent post. While Otis and Ryan get more discussion of disastrous Mets personnel moves, Paul Blair is also worthy of being on that list.

Another brutal move that gets little discussion is one of the worst trades of all time -- Jeff Reardon for Ellis Valentine.

About Mike's Mets

Please support Mike's Mets:

Disclaimer: Mike's Mets is an independent, unofficial fan site, and is not affiliated in any way with the New York Mets or Major League Baseball.

Other Links

General Baseball Links
Internet Radio Shows
Video Blogs
Other Team Links
Other Sports Links
Non-Sports Links
Video Direct

Looking for great deals on MLB Baseball Tickets? Visit JustgreatTickets.com for Cubs Tickets, NY Mets Tickets and a huge selection of Red Sox Tickets, Yankees Tickets and plenty of great concert Tickets for Dave Matthews Band Tickets and Buffett Tickets

Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Powered by
Movable Type 4.1