When it came time for Vida to decide between taking Finley's bonus and trying to be another Johnny Unitas, Washington's advice was that "Vida's future wasn't in pro football. Black quarterbacks just aren't accepted in professional football. I don't doubt that missing football's going to plague him, though."
"Did you ever think what would happen if your arm went bad?" a New York radio man asked Vida one night as he was soaking his arm in ice.
"Man," said Vida, "you're talking about bad times. These are good times." If he were finished with baseball, though, he says he would love being a high-school coach. But he has only a semester at Southern University behind him. And he wouldn't want to live in a place like New York. "As the so-called hippies say, it's a hassle. As soon as the caution light comes on, the car behind you is honking for you to go ahead. I just want to get away on my own and live free. Maybe in Louisiana, because that's my home. I like Arizona, and I'd have to consider California because business-wise that would help me. So would Louisiana, though—I could get into anything from a liquor store to a bookstore, or just a local 7-11.
"But I like baseball. I like traveling to places and meeting people. And I've met all nice people so far—I haven't met any of the bad ones yet. I'm going to stay away from them. I hope they stay away from me."
This year Blue is making not much over $15,000. So far the A's have been averaging 10,000 in home attendance when Blue is not pitching and 16,655 when he is. When Charlie Finley sent down to the dressing room for an autographed ball recently, Blue said, "Tell him here it is and how about a big contract next year. Tell him.... I'll tell him." When Finley was asked how Blue reacted to being promised the Cadillac to drive, Finley said, "He was very humble and proud." Vida Blue may be enough of a phenomenon to win 35 games this year, without burning himself out. He may even be enough of one to make Charlie Finley "humble and proud" come contract time.