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Dennis Blair

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Dennis Herman Blair

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Dennis Blair attended Eisenhower High School in Rialto, CA then became the Montreal Expos' 5th round pick in the 1972 amateur draft.

In his first pro season, Blair played for three teams, the Cocoa Expos (Florida East Coast League), Jamestown Falcons (New York-Penn League) and West Palm Beach Expos (Florida State League). Overall, in 12 games (11 starts), his record was 2-3 with a 3.71 ERA in 68 innings.

He began 1973 with West Palm Beach and after 10 starts – in which he was 4-3 with a 2.25 ERA -, he was promoted to the Quebec Carnavals in the Eastern League. In 15 starts, his record was 3-9 but he was far from overmatched with a 3.24 ERA and 78 hits allowed in 86 innings.

In 1974, he got an invitation to attend the big league camp. Even though he didn't make the team, his move up to the AAA Memphis Blues was a huge step. He was dominating the International League with a 5-0 record and a 1.83 ERA in nine starts when he was called up by the Expos in May. He didn't disappoint, winning his first start on May 26th against the Philadelphia Phillies, allowing only four hits in eight innings. He was removed after walking the first two batters in the 9th (he allowed six walks). That made him the youngest player in Expos' history to win a game, at 19 years, 11 months and 22 days. He was sent down for a brief period of time in June but was back for good before the end of the month. In his first game back, he threw a two-hit shutout against the Chicago Cubs. His best month was July with a 4-2 record and a 2.05 ERA in six starts. His final record was 11-7 with a very solid 3.27 ERA, best on the team among starters with at least 20 starts.

The 1975 season was not as successful for Blair. He started 27 games and relieved in three more. He led the team in losses (15) and walks (106) and his ERA jumped to 3.80. His major problem was control, as he allowed 106 walks in 163 1/3 innings, against 82 strikeouts. It was the 4th-highest walk total in the National League. After the season, GM Jim Fanning made Blair his reclamation project but he showed up in spring training with an injured arm after pitching in winter ball. He spent most of the 1976 season in AAA with the Denver Bears. His record was 9-3 with a 4.50 ERA in 25 starts. The Expos called him up in September. He started four games, losing his two decisions. His best outing was his last one as an Expo, a seven-inning complete game loss against the Phillies, allowing two unearned runs.

Again in 1977, he was sent to Denver but in the middle of the season, he was moved to the Rochester Red Wings, the Baltimore Orioles' AAA affiliate. The official trade was announced only in early September, to complete the transfer of Fred Holdsworth earlier that season from Baltimore to Montreal. Blair struggled in AAA in 1978, losing his six decisions in nine starts with a 8.05 ERA. He did better in AA with Charlotte (Southern League), going 6-4 in 14 starts with a 2.43 ERA. Back in Rochester in 1979, Blair was hit hard, going 2-2 and a .,43 ERA in seven starts. On June 6th, the Orioles sent him to the San Diego Padres in return for Randy Fierbaugh. The righthanded pitcher found himself with the Hawaii Islanders to finish the season. His record was 6-6 with a 4.85 ERA in 15 starts and one relief outing.

Blair got an invitation to attend spring training with the Padres in 1980. He didn't make the team but the Padres called him up in June, where he faced his former team, the Expos, in his first two outings, contributing to a Padres' 4-2 victory in his first game back by pitching two scoreless innings. It was his first big league appearance since September of 1976. He had one start in early July against the Atlanta Braves, when he did well in seven innings, allowing two runs on seven hits and a walk. He wasn't involved in the decision. He was used twice more in relief, allowing six earned runs in 4 1/3 innings before being sent down, never to return to the majors. In 1980 with Hawaii, Blair was 6-12 in 21 starts with a 4.25 ERA. That was his last season in pro baseball.

His cousin, Bill Blair, coached the Minnesota Timberwolves in the NBA in the mid-1990s. He also had a short stint with the New Jersey Nets in the 1980s.

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