Orioles great Paul Blair dead at 69

Baltimore Orioles fans are grieving the death of retired center fielder Paul Blair, who died Thursday night after passing out at a bowling alley in Pikesville.

Blair was 69 years old.

Robbie Davis Sr., owner of Robbie's First Base sports memorabilia shop in Lutherville, was bowling near Blair when he said he heard a startling call coming over the intercom system. The voice was asking if anyone knew CPR.

A nurse bowling in Davis's group tended to Blair until the ambulance arrived. A nursing supervisor at Sinai Hospital said Blair was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Davis and Blair were friends. The two were in the same bowling league.

"Paul Blair liked to bowl and he liked to golf and he died bowling. He died doing what he liked to do. You can't ask for any more than that," Davis said.

Blair won two World Series titles with the Orioles in 1966 and 1970. Blair's professional career lasted from 1964 to 1980. He won eight Gold Glove awards and four MVP titles with the Orioles, according to BaseballReference.com .

"He may have been as key to that defense as Brooks Robinson because he was able to play so shallow in center field; nothing ever dropped in front of him because he had that great confidence to go back on the ball," Stan "The Fan" Charles, publisher of Baltimore sports magazine Pressbox, said. "And I got to be honest with you I was a huge Willie Mays fan, but Paul Blair was the greatest center fielder I ever saw for simply catching the ball if it was in the ballpark."

Oriole owner Peter Angelos released the following statement on Blair's passing," Angelos said. "It is with great sadness that we learned of Paul Blair's passing last evening Paul was a key member of many of the Orioles' most memorable and successful teams, as his contributions at the plate and his Gold Glove defense in center field helped the club to two World Series and four AL pennants. After his on-field career, Paul made the Baltimore area his home 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."

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