- OF, RF, 1B, LF, CF, DH
- October 14, 1946
- 195 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 9-23-1968 with PIT
- Allstar Selections:
- 1980 SS, 1981 SS, 1982 SS
Hard-swinging Al Oliver won the 1982 National League batting title after having finished in the top ten seven of the previous ten seasons. An outfielder, Oliver came up through the Pirates' organization, joining several other black and Latin ballplayers on the successful Pittsburgh teams of the 1970s. Originally a center fielder, Oliver later switched to first base and designated hitter when he played for Texas in his only stint in the junior circuit. He batted .300 ten times and retired with more than 2,700 hits and a .303 career mark.
In his first season with the Expos, Oliver rapped 204 hits, 43 doubles, 22 homers, 109 RBI, and won the batting title (.331). He led the league in hits, doubles, extra-base hits, total bases and multi-hit games.
Al Oliver was the first player to amass 200 hits and 100 RBI in a season in both the American and National leagues.
June 13, 1964: Signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as an amateur free agent.
December 8, 1977: Traded as part of a 4-team trade by the Pittsburgh Pirates with Nelson Norman to the Texas Rangers. The Atlanta Braves sent Willie Montanez to the New York Mets. The Texas Rangers sent Adrian Devine, Tommy Boggs, and Eddie Miller to the Atlanta Braves. The Texas Rangers sent a player to be named later and Tom Grieve to the New York Mets. The Texas Rangers sent Bert Blyleven to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The New York Mets sent Jon Matlack to the Texas Rangers. The New York Mets sent John Milner to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Texas Rangers sent Ken Henderson (March 15, 1978) to the New York Mets to complete the trade.
March 31, 1982: Traded by the Texas Rangers to the Montreal Expos for Larry Parrish and Dave Hostetler.
February 27, 1984: Traded by the Montreal Expos to the San Francisco Giants for Fred Breining and Max Venable. The San Francisco Giants sent Andy McGaffigan (March 31, 1984) to the Montreal Expos to complete the trade.
August 20, 1984: Traded by the San Francisco Giants with a player to be named later to the Philadelphia Phillies for Kelly Downs and George Riley. The San Francisco Giants sent Renie Martin (August 30, 1984) to the Philadelphia Phillies to complete the trade. February 4, 1985: Traded by the Philadelphia Phillies to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Pat Zachry.
July 9, 1985: Traded by the Los Angeles Dodgers to the Toronto Blue Jays for Len Matuszek.
November 12, 1985: Granted Free Agency.
After the Rangers acquired Mickey Rivers in 1979 and placed him in center field, shifting Oliver to left, Oliver demanded a trade. The Rangers smoothed over Oliver's feelings and he played two more seasons in Texas.
On August 10, 1983, Oliver collected his 2,500th hit, off Mets' pitcher Carlos Diaz.
In Tiger Stadium on August 17, 1980, Oliver collected a double, triple and four homers in a doubleheader against the Tigers, establishing a league record for most total bases (21) in a twinbill.
The Progressive Pirates
Baseball was still battling racial stereotypes in the 1970s. Many people believed that minorities were not suited to be pitchers, for example, because they lacked the intellect. This is the sad truth that still haunts the game today, despite all of the strides made by blacks and Latinos. One team ignored those prejudices, they were the Pittsburgh Pirates. By 1971, as many as half of their major league roster was black or Latino. On September 1, 1971, they fielded what is believed to be the first all-black lineup in the history of the league. Oliver played first base, joining second baseman Rennie Stennett, center fielder Gene Clines, right fielder Roberto Clemente, left fielder Willie Stargell, catcher Manny Sanguillen, third baseman Dave Cash, shortstop Jackie Hernandez and pitcher Dock Ellis in the starting lineup. Pittsburgh won the National League East division that season and went on to defeat the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series.
Notes and Highlights
Was third in NL Most Valuable Player voting in 1982... Oliver finished second to Ted Sizemore in the 1969 NL Rookie of the Year voting... Oliver's .319 career batting average with the Rangers is the highest in team history.
Al Oliver was a career .303 hitter with 219 home runs and 1326 RBI in 2368 games. He batted .300 or more eleven times and retired with 2,743 hits (45th on the all-time list). He also ranks among all-time top 50 in games played (2368), total bases (4083), RBI (1326) and extra-base hits (825). He was among the league's top ten in doubles nine times and among the league's top ten in hits nine times as well and finished in the top ten in batting average nine times. Five times he was among the league's top ten in total bases and four times he was in the top ten in RBIs. Because of these feats, his name has been mentioned more than once as a possible inductee into the National Baseball Hall Of Fame.
* Oliver hit the last home run ever hit at Forbes Field. His shot came off Milt Pappas in the sixth inning of the last game played at the stadium, the second game of a June 28, 1970, doubleheader against the Chicago Cubs.
* Oliver also drove in the first run ever scored at Three Rivers Stadium. His first-inning double off Gary Nolan drove in Richie Hebner in that stadium's inaugural game, on July 16 of that same 1970 season. However, the Cincinnati Reds defeated the Pirates 3-2 .
* Oliver asked to be intentionally benched for the final two games of the 1983 season to maintain his .300 batting average.
* Oliver's son Aaron Oliver was a member of the 1998 Big 12 Championship Football Team at Texas A&M University. He lettered 4 years and was a 3 year starter. His son also caught the first touchdown pass in Big 12 Conference history Branndon Stewart to Aaron Oliver, Texas A&M 57 yards on 2nd-and-9 from the Texas A&M 43-yard line (9:55, 2nd Quarter) against Brigham Young University. Now Aaron is a teacher at a prestigious charter school, KIPP TRUTH Academy, located in Dallas, Texas.
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