- 1B, DH
- August 5, 1968
- 6' 5"
- 205 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 9-03-1989 with TOR
- Allstar Selections:
- 1993 HA, 2000 GG, 2002 GG, 2003 GG
John Garrett Olerud ( born August 5, 1968; nicknamed Big Rude, and Johnny O), is a former American first baseman in Major League Baseball. Olerud played with the Toronto Blue Jays (1989–96), New York Mets (1997–99), Seattle Mariners (2000–2004), New York Yankees (2004) and Boston Red Sox (2005).
A three-time Gold Glove winner, he was an excellent defensive first baseman and part of Sports Illustrated's "Greatest Infield Ever"Sports Illustrated, Sept. 6, 1999 with Edgardo Alfonzo, Rey Ordóñez, and Robin Ventura.
Washington State University
In 1987, Olerud hit .414 with 5 HR and 20 RBIs. As a pitcher, he went 8-2 with a 3.00 ERA and was a freshman All-American.
In 1988, Olerud hit .464 with 23 HR, 81 RBIs, 108 hits, 204 total bases, and a .876 Slugging percentage. As a pitcher, he had an undefeated 15-0 season, and threw 113 Ks with a 2.49 ERA. He was a consensus All-American as both 1B and Pitcher and Baseball America College Player of the Year.
In 1989, while recovering from a brain aneurysm, Olerud hit .359 with 5 HR and 30 RBI in 78 plate appearances. He threw for three wins, two losses, and a 6.68 ERA. He was a Pac-10 North All-League Designated Hitter.
In a 17-season career through 2005 spanning 2,234 games, Olerud posted a .398 on-base percentage, 500 doubles, 255 home runs, 1,275 walks, 1,408 runs created, 3,602 times on base, 96 sacrifice flies and 157 intentional walks. He was also hit by a pitch 88 times and grounded into 232 double plays during his career. He is also one of only 26 players to ever hit for the cycle multiple times in their careers.
Olerud jumped directly to the majors after a stellar career at Washington State University where he was a pitcher noted for his performance from 1987 to 1989. He was known for wearing a batting helmet in the field as a precaution since he had suffered a brain aneurysm while playing in college.
Olerud broke into MLB with the Toronto Blue Jays. He was platooned by Jays' manager Cito Gaston for the first few years of his career, until his breakout season, when he led the American League in batting average (.363), runs created (156), intentional walks (33), times on base (321), on-base percentage (.473), on-base plus slugging (1.072), and doubles (54, also a career high), while posting career highs in home runs (24), RBI (107), runs (109), and hits (200). In 1993, he flirted with a .400 batting average for much of the season, with his average staying higher than .400 as late as August 24.
A two-time All-Star, Olerud was a member of two World Series winners with the Blue Jays (1992-1993 World Series). After having less success in the next three seasons, he was traded to the New York Mets on 20 December 1996, with cash, for Robert Person.
With the Mets, Olerud set team single season records for batting average (.354), on-base percentage (.447) and runs created (138) in 1998 and set their team records for most walks (125) and times on base (309) in a season in 1999. Also during his 1999 campaign, Olerud appeared on the cover of the September 6 issue of Sports Illustrated, along with fellow Mets infielders Edgardo Alfonzo, Rey Ordóñez, and Robin Ventura. The magazine raised the debate as to whether the four talented defensive players comprised the best infield in Major League history.
Following the 1999 season, Olerud returned home, agreeing to a three-year, $20 million contract with the Seattle Mariners. He was an important part of the Mariners' 116-46 season with a .401 on-base percentage, 94 walks, 272 times on base and 19 intentional walks in 159 games. In he amassed 45 doubles, 102 walks, 10 sacrifice flies and 11 intentional walks. He recorded a .398 on-base percentage, 39 doubles, 98 walks, 269 times on base and led the American League in sacrifice flies (12). In 2003 he collected another 84 walks. Olerud also earned all three of his career Gold Gloves while playing first base for Seattle in 2000, 2002 and 2003.
After being released by the Mariners in the middle of the 2004 season, Olerud was signed by the New York Yankees to fill a void left at first base by the injury of Jason Giambi. Later that year the Yankees visited Seattle to play the Mariners. Olerud started the second game; his first time up, Mariner catcher Dan Wilson went to the mound to have a "conference" with pitcher Jamie Moyer. This gave time for about a minute long standing ovation for Olerud from the Seattle fans. His final game with the Yankees was Game 3 of the American League Championship Series when he was forced to leave due to an injured foot. Olerud pinch hit in Game 7 but struck out after a lengthy at bat against Pedro Martinez in a rare relief appearance.
On May 1, 2005, the Boston Red Sox and Olerud agreed to terms on a minor league contract. He had been recovering from surgery in November 2004 to repair torn ligaments in his left foot. Initially, Olerud reported to the club's spring training complex in Fort Myers, Florida. He was added to Boston's 25-man roster on May 27, sharing time at first base with Kevin Millar and batting in the middle of the lineup (including several starts in the clean-up spot).
On December 6, 2005 Olerud announced his retirement from baseball. At the time of his retirement, his 2,239 career hits represented the 143rd-highest total in Major League Baseball history. His career .398 OBP ranks 65th all-time, and his 500 doubles are good for 44th all-time.
In 2007 Olerud was inducted into the College Baseball Hall Of Fame.
- The Boston Globe - Olerud a pro with no cons
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