In as Grand Marshal: Vida Blue

Lefty pitching great Vida Blue, a star for both the Oakland A’s and the San Francisco Giants, has been named Grand Marshal of the Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series weekend at Sonoma Raceway, June 20-22.

Blue, who was a key starter for the A’s three consecutive World Championships in 1972-74, also helped lead a resurgent Giants franchise through a dramatic 1978 campaign following a cross-bay trade. He was the first pitcher ever to start the All-Star Game for both the American League (1971) and the National League (1978).

Blue will be honored on Friday, June 20, at the Children’s Champions Grand Marshal’s Banquet at beautiful Cline Cellars in Sonoma. The gala is a fundraiser for the Sonoma Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities. He will also take part in pre-race activities on Sunday, June 22, and participate in the official command of, “Drivers, Start Your Engines.”

In 1971, Blue’s first full season with Oakland, he went 24-8 with a 1.82 ERA, and earned both the Cy Young Award and Most Valuable Player Award. That year, he became the only player ever to be the starting pitcher in the league opener, the All-Star Game and the playoff opener in the same season. He was also featured on the covers of Sports Illustrated and Time magazine.

During his 17-year career, Blue pitched for the Oakland Athletics (1969-77), San Francisco Giants (1978-81; 1985-86) and Kansas City Royals (1982-83).

“I’m delighted to be honored by the raceway during NASCAR weekend, and I’m really looking forward to heading out to the track. This will be my first time at a NASCAR race, and I know it’s going to be something special,” said Blue, a 1995 Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame inductee.

Since retiring from the Giants in 1986, Blue has made a name for himself as a supporter of numerous charities, particularly youth causes. Blue is especially involved with Oakland’s Northern Light School, a 165-student non-profit K-8 school for Oakland kids who couldn’t normally afford to go to a private school. He is currently a baseball analyst for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, the TV home of the San Francisco Giants.

“Vida is one of the greatest competitors ever to take the mound in either league, but he’s also one of the most engaging personalities in the industry and I know he’s going to be a big hit with our fans at the race, regardless of their team loyalties,” said Steve Page, Sonoma Raceway president and general manager.

For more information or to purchase a seat or table for the Grand Marshal’s Banquet, contact Cheri Plattner at 707-933-3950 or visit http://sonoma.speedwaycharities.org/events/grand_marshal_banquet/. Great ticket options are also available for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series weekend in Sonoma. Visit www.racesonoma.com/nascar or call 800-870-RACE for details.

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Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
WHAT: Toyota/Save Mart 350
WHEN: June 20-22
2013 POLE WINNER: Jamie McMurray (Cessna Chevrolet)
2013 WINNER: Martin Truex Jr. (Napa Auto Parts Toyota)
NOTABLE: The weekend also feature Lean1 Pole Day NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying and the NASCAR Pro Series West race on Saturday.
TICKETS: $25-$140 single day/$95-$180 weekend; parking is FREE; Kids 12 and under FREE on Friday. Discounts for military.
INFORMATION: 800-870-RACE, racesonoma.com/nascar or ticketmaster.com


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