Paul Blair, a key member of four Orioles World Series teams and considered the best defensive outfielder in franchise history, died Thursday evening in Pikesville while participating in a celebrity bowling tournament, according to Gloria Blair, his wife of 42 years.
He was 69.

Gloria Blair said her husband played 18 holes of golf with friends Thursday morning, and when he came home was asked to take part in a celebrity bowling tournament at AMF Pikesville Lanes.

"Paul was honestly too tired, but he never says no," she said. "During a practice round, he threw two or three balls, then sat down and told a friend, 'I feel funny' and kind of collapsed. He lost consciousness and they called 911 and the ambulance took him to [Sinai Hospital], but the doctors there told me they never got a pulse. I was told he died around 6:45 p.m."

On Dec. 23, 2009, Mr. Blair suffered a heart attack and was rushed to Howard County General, where a stent was inserted, and he returned home Christmas Day.

Over the years, Mr. Blair, a resident of Woodstock in Howard County, worked as an Orioles' spring training instructor and was a fixture at old-timers' events in the Baltimore area. After he retired in 1980 he turned to coaching with stops that included Fordham and Coppin State.

He spent 13 of his 17 seasons with the Orioles, winning two World Series (1966, 1970) and capturing eight Gold Gloves as the club's sure-handed center fielder. The Orioles acquired him in the first-year player draft from the New York Mets in the 1962 offseason, and he made his debut in the majors at age 20 in 1964.

By 1966, he had emerged as a competent hitter and force with the glove. He then became a mainstay near the Orioles' dangerous order.