John Olerud

John Garrett Olerud (/ˈoʊləruːd/; born August 5, 1968), nicknamed Johnny O and Big Rude, is a left-handed American former Major League Baseball first baseman. Olerud played with the Toronto Blue Jays (1989–96), New York Mets (1997–99), Seattle Mariners (2000–04), New York Yankees (2004), and Boston Red Sox (2005).

A patient, productive hitter throughout his career,[1] Olerud won the American League batting title in 1993 and was runner-up for the National League batting title in 1998. Also a three-time Gold Glove winner, he was an excellent defensive first baseman and part of Sports Illustrated's "The Best Infield Ever?" cover in 1999 with Edgardo Alfonzo, Rey Ordóñez, and Robin Ventura, when he played for the Mets.[2]

John Olerud
John Olerud
Olerud with Boston in 2005
First baseman
Born: August 5, 1968 (age 50)
Seattle, Washington
Batted: Left Threw: Left
MLB debut
September 3, 1989, for the Toronto Blue Jays
Last MLB appearance
October 2, 2005, for the Boston Red Sox
MLB statistics
Batting average.295
Home runs255
Runs batted in1,230
Career highlights and awards

Early life

Olerud was born to Lynda and John E. Olerud, a physician, dermatologist, and baseball player from Lisbon, North Dakota.[3][4][5][6] The elder Olerud played college baseball for the Washington State Cougars as a catcher and was the captain of the team which advanced to the semifinals of the College World Series in 1965.[5] An All-American,[7] he was selected by the California Angels in the 1965 amateur draft and spent the next seven years studying medicine and playing minor league baseball.[4]

At Interlake High School in Bellevue, Washington, east of Seattle, Olerud played varsity golf and baseball for three years.[8] As a senior in 1986, he led the Saints to a state high school baseball championship as both a pitcher and first baseman.[3]

College baseball

Like his father, Olerud played college baseball for the WSU Cougars in Pullman under head coach Chuck "Bobo" Brayton.


As a true freshman in 1987, he hit .414 with 5 HR and 20 RBIs. As a pitcher, he went 8-2 with a 3.00 ERA and was an All-American. Washington State finished third in the six-team West I regional of the NCAA tournament.[9][10]


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,[11] with a 2.49 ERA and 113 strikeouts. He was a consensus All-American as both a first baseman and pitcher and was named the Baseball America College Player of the Year.[12][13] WSU again finished third in the six-team West I regional of the NCAA tournament.[11][14]


Prior to his junior season in 1989, Olerud was running indoors on campus on January 11 when he collapsed; hospitalized in Pullman, he was airlifted to Spokane later in the day, accompanied by his father.[15][16][17][18][19] It was diagnosed as a subarachnoid hemorrhage, which caused bleeding into the spinal column. He remained in the hospital for about two weeks after the seizure and lost fifteen pounds (7 kg), but was back in class by the end of January.[20] A few weeks later in Seattle, further examinations revealed a brain aneurysm,[5] and he underwent surgery in late February.[20][21][22]

Olerud returned to action for the Cougars in mid-April;[20][23][24] he hit .359 with 5 HR and 30 RBI in 78 plate appearances. On the mound, he posted a 3-2 record with a 6.68 ERA. He was a Pac-10 North All-League designated hitter. From 1989 forward, he wore a batting helmet while on defense.[19] The Cougars again won the Pac-10 North title, but lost their first two games of the North tournament in blustery Spokane to end their year early.[25][26] (Fourth-seeded Portland advanced to the NCAA tourney.)[27]

In June, the Toronto Blue Jays selected him in the third round of the 1989 draft.[28][29] Fully intending to return to the Cougars for his senior season,[30][31][32] he again played summer ball with the Palouse Empire team in the Alaska League,[33][34] while the Blue Jays negotiated a contract. He told teams prior to the draft that a very large bonus would be necessary for him to forego his senior year at WSU.[28][29] In late August, he signed with Toronto.[5][19][35][36]

Professional career

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 scored, 1,230 RBI, 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. Defensively, in 2,053 games at first base, he recorded a career .995 fielding percentage. He was a two-time All-Star and was a member of two World Series–winning teams with the Blue Jays (199293).

Olerud jumped directly to the majors after a stellar career at Washington State, where he was a pitcher noted for his performance from 1987 to 1989. He had originally intended to return to WSU for his senior year but agreed to sign with the Blue Jays only after they promised that he would report directly to Toronto.[20] He was known for wearing a batting helmet in the field as a precaution, due to the aneurysm he suffered while playing in college.[37]

Toronto Blue Jays

Olerud broke into MLB with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1989, without ever playing in the minors. He was platooned by Jays' manager Cito Gaston for the first few years of his career, until 1992, when he became the team's full-time first baseman. In 1993, his breakout season, he led the American League in batting average (.363), intentional walks (33), times on base (321), on-base percentage (.473), OPS (1.072), and doubles (54, also a career high), while posting career highs in home runs (24), RBI (107), runs (109), and hits (200). He flirted with a .400 batting average for much of the season, with his average staying higher than .400 as late as August 24.

Despite putting up solid numbers over the next several years, he failed to meet the high expectations placed upon him following his breakout performance in 1993. After the 1996 season, Olerud was battling veteran Joe Carter and up-and-comer Carlos Delgado for a spot at either first base or designated hitter. Delgado was young, had a bright future and a low salary, while Gaston preferred Carter to Olerud, feeling the latter wasn't aggressive enough at the plate.[38] Therefore, Olerud was traded, along with cash, to the New York Mets on December 20 for Robert Person.

New York Mets

With the Mets, he set a team record in 1998, tied by Ike Davis in 2013, by reaching base at least twice in 12 straight starts.[39] 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.[2]

Seattle Mariners

Following the 1999 season, Olerud returned home, agreeing to a three-year, $20 million contract with the Seattle Mariners. In 2000, he amassed 45 doubles, 102 walks, 10 sacrifice flies and 11 intentional walks. He was an important part of the Mariners' 116–46 2001 season, with a .401 on-base percentage, 94 walks, 272 times on base and 19 intentional walks in 159 games. In 2002, he recorded a .403 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. In mid-July 2004, the Mariners were in last place in the AL West and Olerud was designated for reassignment;[40] he was hitting .245 with five homers and a trade was attempted but not completed; he was released the following week.[41]

New York Yankees

About a week after his release, Olerud was signed in early August by the New York Yankees to fill a void left at first base by the injury of Jason Giambi.[42] Less than two weeks later, the Yankees visited Seattle to play the Mariners. Olerud started the second game on Saturday, August 14; 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.[43] His AL championship series was cut short when he was forced to leave due to an injured foot in Game 3. Olerud pinch hit in Game 7 but struck out after a lengthy at-bat against Pedro Martínez, making a rare relief appearance; it was Olerud's last at-bat as a Yankee.

Boston Red Sox

On May 2, 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).


Following the 2005 season, Olerud announced his retirement from baseball on December 6. At the time, his 2,239 career hits represented the 143rd-highest total in major league history. His career .398 OBP ranks 65th, and his 500 doubles are 44th all-time.

In 2007, Olerud was inducted into the National College Baseball Hall of Fame.

In 2016, Olerud was named Pac-12 Player of the Century when the conference released its All-Century Baseball team.[44]

Personal life

Olerud lives with his wife Kelly, who was a high school classmate,[1] and their children (one son and two daughters) in the Seattle suburb of Clyde Hill.[45] Olerud's father John E. Olerud, M.D., also played baseball at Washington State University.[6][46] Olerud is a cousin of Milwaukee Brewers shortstop, Dale Sveum.

The John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award is named after him.

See also


  1. ^ a b Taylor, Phil (May 10, 1993). "A swing so sweet". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved September 25, 2017.
  2. ^ a b Verducci, Tom (September 6, 1999). "Glove affair". Sports Illustrated. p. 56.
  3. ^ a b Moore, Jim (July 9, 2001). "Family, friends knew Olerud was special". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved October 19, 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Esteemed Physician, Professor, Researcher, and Former Baseball Standout Scores Highest Alumni Award". Washington State University. Retrieved October 19, 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d Hersch, Hank (April 15, 1991). "A gentleman and a slugger". Sports Illustrated. p. 84.
  6. ^ a b Clark, Larry (Summer 2012). "John E. Olerud '65 — Science is a lot like baseball". Washington State. alumni magazine). Retrieved September 25, 2017.
  7. ^ "Olerud named All-American". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. June 11, 1965. p. 12.
  8. ^ "John Olerud". Washington Interscholastic Activities Association. Retrieved October 19, 2016.
  9. ^ Stalwick, Howie (May 26, 1987). "ORU inches by Cougars; season over". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). p. B1.
  10. ^ "Sun sets on Cougars in NCAA regional". Idahonian. (Moscow). May 26, 1987. p. 8.
  11. ^ a b "WSU season ends step short". Idahonian. (Moscow). May 31, 1988. p. 10A.
  12. ^ Stalwick, Howie (June 4, 1989). "Olerud named player of the year". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). p. B1.
  13. ^ Jacobson, Bryan (June 3, 1988). "Player of the year". Idahonian. (Moscow). p. 1B.
  14. ^ Stalwick, Howie (May 30, 1989). "Solo homer ends season for Cougars". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). p. C1.
  15. ^ Stalwick, Howie (January 12, 1989). "Olerud collapses during workout". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). p. D1.
  16. ^ Meehan, Jim (January 12, 1989). "Olerud in stable condition; test continue". Idahonian. (Moscow). p. 7A.
  17. ^ Stalwick, Howie (January 13, 1989). "Olerud should return to baseball". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). p. C1.
  18. ^ Meehan, Jim (January 13, 1989). "Olerud to be in hospital two weeks". Idahonian. (Moscow). p. 7A.
  19. ^ a b c Sherwin, Bob (July 19, 1990). "Olerud coping well with impact of head injury -- Blue Jay from Bellevue making noise as a rookie". Seattle Times. Retrieved September 24, 2017.
  20. ^ a b c d DiGiovanna, Mike (May 24, 1990). "Big leagues no big deal to him". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 24, 2017.
  21. ^ Stalwick, Howie (January 28, 1989). "Olerud surgery goes very well". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). p. C1.
  22. ^ "Olerud doing fine". Idahonian. (Moscow). Associated Press. February 28, 1989. p. 9A.
  23. ^ Meehan, Jim (April 15, 1989). "Olerud will suit, will he play?". Idahonian. (Moscow). p. 1D.
  24. ^ Stoffer, Jeff (April 17, 1989). "Huskies sweep WSU into third". Idahonian. (Moscow). p. 1B.
  25. ^ Stalwick, Howie (May 19, 1989). "One-two punch KOs Cougars". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). p. C1.
  26. ^ Meehan, Jim (May 19, 1989). "EWU, Zags send Cougars packing". Idahonian. (Moscow). p. 1B.
  27. ^ Stalwick, Howie (May 22, 1989). "Devore pilots Portland to Pac-10 ND title". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). p. C1.
  28. ^ a b Stalwick, Howie (June 7, 1989). "Olerud, Kellogg drafted by pro teams". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). p. D1.
  29. ^ a b Meehan, Jim (June 7, 1989). "Olerud: It'll take a 'crazy' offer". Idahonian. (Moscow). p. 1D.
  30. ^ Bergum, Steve (May 15, 1989). "Olerud says he'll remain at WSU for senior season". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). p. C1.
  31. ^ Meehan, Jim (May 15, 1989). "Olerud's coming back". Idahonian. (Moscow). p. 1B.
  32. ^ Lewis, Mike (June 12, 1989). "Olerud passes on pro ball". Idahonian. (Moscow). p. 1B.
  33. ^ Pierce, Oliver (June 5, 1987). "Palouse Cougars head north to Alaska again". Idahonian. (Moscow). p. 11.
  34. ^ Lewis, Mike (June 12, 1989). "Cougars off to rough 1-2 start". Idahonian. (Moscow). p. 1B.
  35. ^ Stalwick, Howie (August 26, 1989). "Olerud will fly with Blue Jays". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). p. B1.
  36. ^ "Olerud joins Jays in thick of pennant chase". Idahonian. (Moscow). August 28, 1989. p. 1B.
  37. ^ Vecsey, George (May 29, 2005). "Olerud's Skill Is Noticeable Even During a Laugher". The New York Times. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  38. ^ Top 50 All-Time Jays: #10 John Olerud
  39. ^ [1]
  40. ^ "Report: Mariners moving Olerud off roster". Moscow-Pullman Daily News. (Idaho-Washington). Associated Press. July 15, 2004. p. 1B.
  41. ^ "Mariners release former AL batting champ Olerud". Moscow-Pullman Daily News. (Idaho-Washington). Associated Press. July 24, 2004. p. 1B.
  42. ^ Walker, Ben (August 4, 2004). "Back in New York". Moscow-Pullman Daily News. (Idaho-Washington). Associated Press. p. 1B.
  43. ^ "Olerud connects to sink Mariners". Sunday Register-Guard. Eugene, Oregon). Associated Press. August 15, 2004. p. D5.
  44. ^ "Pac-12 All-Century Baseball team revealed". Pac-12. Retrieved May 4, 2016.
  45. ^ Clyde Hill Home and Local Legal Battle
  46. ^ ACCORDING TO DERMATOLOGIST John E. Olerud, M.D., "Life is a lot like baseball."

External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Frank Thomas
Paul Molitor
American League Player of the Month
April 1993
June 1993
Succeeded by
Paul Molitor
Rafael Palmeiro
Preceded by
Alex Rodriguez
Damion Easley
Hitting for the cycle
September 11, 1997
June 16, 2001
Succeeded by
Mike Blowers
Jeff Bagwell
1986 Major League Baseball draft

The 1986 Major League Baseball Draft was the 22nd MLB draft that took place in 1986. During this draft 21 future all-stars were drafted including, Greg Swindell, Matt Williams, Kevin Brown, Gary Sheffield, Roberto Hernández, Jack Armstrong, Dean Palmer, Scott Cooper, Kent Bottenfield, Bo Jackson, Joe Girardi, Pat Hentgen, Tom Gordon, Steve Finley, Rod Beck, Chuck Knoblauch, Rick Reed, Paul Quantrill, John Olerud, Scott Erickson and Todd Jones.

1988 College Baseball All-America Team

An All-American team is an honorary sports team composed of the best amateur players of a specific season for each team position—who in turn are given the honorific "All-America" and typically referred to as "All-American athletes", or simply "All-Americans". Although the honorees generally do not compete together as a unit, the term is used in U.S. team sports to refer to players who are selected by members of the national media. Walter Camp selected the first All-America team in the early days of American football in 1889.The NCAA recognizes two different All-America selectors for the 1988 college baseball season: the American Baseball Coaches Association (since 1947) and Baseball America (since 1981).

1993 Toronto Blue Jays season

The 1993 Toronto Blue Jays season was the franchise's 17th season of Major League Baseball. It resulted in the Blue Jays finishing first in the American League East with a record of 95 wins and 67 losses. They were shut out only once in 162 regular-season games. The Blue Jays would repeat as World Champions and become the first back-to-back champions since the 1977–1978 New York Yankees. The American League Championship Series would see the Blue Jays play the Chicago White Sox. After defeating the White Sox in six games, the Blue Jays would beat the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series, also in six games. The team would not qualify for the post-season again until the 2015 season.

This season marked the first time that a manager from the Blue Jays would manage the American League in the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. It was the 64th Mid-Summer Classic and was played on July 13 at Camden Yards in Baltimore with Cito Gaston leading the American League squad. John Olerud, Roberto Alomar, Joe Carter, and Paul Molitor were all starters for the American League. Pat Hentgen, Duane Ward and Devon White were named as reserves to the American League team. In the game, the American League defeated the National League by a score of 9–3. White, Alomar, Molitor, Carter and Olerud, batting first through fifth for most games, proved to be very strong offensively, and were nicknamed WAMCO. When Rickey Henderson joined the Jays on July 31, and was placed second in the batting order, the nickname (now for the first six in the batting order) was then able to be spelled WHAMCO.

1997 New York Mets season

The New York Mets' 1997 season was the 36th regular season for the Mets. They went 88-74 and finished 3rd in the NL East. They were managed by Bobby Valentine. They played home games at Shea Stadium.

1998 New York Mets season

The New York Mets' 1998 season was the 37th regular season for the Mets. Like the previous season, they finished the season with a record of 88–74. Despite placing 2nd in the National League East, the Mets fell one game short of playoff contention following a catastrophic collapse during the final week of the season. They were managed by Bobby Valentine. They played home games at Shea Stadium.

1999 New York Mets season

The New York Mets' 1999 season was the 38th regular season for the Mets. They went 97-66 and finished 2nd in the NL East but won the NL Wild Card by beating the Cincinnati Reds in a one game playoff. The Mets advanced to the National League Championship Series, where they were defeated by the Atlanta Braves in 6 games.

The Mets were managed by Bobby Valentine, who entered his fourth year as skipper. They played home games at Shea Stadium.

2000 American League Championship Series

The 2000 American League Championship Series (ALCS) was a matchup between the East Division champion New York Yankees and the Wild Card Seattle Mariners. The Yankees had advanced to the Series after beating the West Division champion Oakland Athletics in the ALDS three games to two and the Mariners advanced by beating the Central Division champion Chicago White Sox three games to none. The Yankees won the Series four games to two and went on to defeat the New York Mets in the World Series to win their third consecutive World Series championship, twenty-sixth overall.

Adam Haseley

Adam Donald Haseley (born April 12, 1996) is an American baseball outfielder for the Philadelphia Phillies of Major League Baseball (MLB). The Phillies selected Haseley with the eighth overall selection in 2017 Major League Baseball draft. He made his major league debut in 2019.

Brendan McKay (baseball)

Brendan Joel McKay (born December 18, 1995) is an American professional baseball pitcher and designated hitter for the Tampa Bay Rays of Major League Baseball (MLB). He played college baseball at the University of Louisville.

Brian Johnson (pitcher)

Christopher Brian Johnson (born December 7, 1990) is an American professional baseball pitcher for the Boston Red Sox of Major League Baseball (MLB). Listed at 6 feet 4 inches (1.93 m) and 235 pounds (107 kg), he both throws and bats left-handed. Johnson was the 2012 recipient of the John Olerud Award.

Brooks Wilson

Brooks Harrison Wilson (born March 15, 1996) is an American professional baseball pitcher for the Atlanta Braves organization. Prior to playing professionally, Wilson attended the Stetson University, where he played college baseball for the Hatters.

Wilson starred in baseball for Lakeland Christian School. In college, Wilson was named an All-American in 2018, and won the John Olerud Award in 2018. The Braves selected him with the two-hundred and second overall selection in the 2018 MLB draft.

College Baseball Foundation

The College Baseball Foundation was formed in 2004 in Lubbock, Texas as a non-profit organization, with the dual aims of awarding the Brooks Wallace Award, and creating the National College Baseball Hall of Fame. The organization also annually presents several other college baseball awards including: the John Olerud Award, National Collegiate Umpire Award, Pitcher of the Year Award, and Skip Bertman Award.

Dale Sveum

Dale Curtis Sveum ( SWAYM; born November 23, 1963) is an American former Major League Baseball (MLB) player and manager. He is currently the hitting coach for the Kansas City Royals. As a player, Sveum saw action in twelve major league seasons between 1986 and 1999. He was a member of the Milwaukee Brewers, Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics, Seattle Mariners, Pittsburgh Pirates, and New York Yankees. Following his playing career, Sveum managed in minor league baseball for several seasons before becoming an MLB coach. Sveum briefly served as manager of the Brewers in 2008. He was named manager of the Cubs after the 2011 season. His cousin was Blue Jays all-star John Olerud

In-between hop

An in-between hop is that term in baseball which indicates a bounced baseball that reaches an infielder at the midpoint of its upward bounce. As a fielder in this instance typically cannot respond to the path of the ball quickly enough, players try to avoid encounters with in-between hops. While ground balls and throws in the dirt usually do not change direction, such factors as the spin of the baseball or imperfections of the playing surface can influence a bounce. An in-between hop contrasts with a short hop, which refers to a baseball that reaches an infielder immediately after it bounces.

The in-between hop is often responsible for errors in infield play. In a December 2003 Baseball Digest interview, first baseman John Olerud cites the in-between hop as the toughest play for a fielder to handle.

John Olerud Award

The John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award (known colloquially as the John Olerud Award) is a college baseball award given to the best two-way player of the season. The award is named after former Washington State Cougars All-American pitcher and first baseman John Olerud. The current holder of the award is Brooks Wilson of the Stetson Hatters.

List of New York Mets team records

This is a list of team records for the New York Mets baseball team.

Marco Gonzales

Marco Elias Gonzales (born February 16, 1992) is an American professional baseball pitcher for the Seattle Mariners of Major League Baseball (MLB).

He has played in MLB for the St. Louis Cardinals. He attended Gonzaga University, where he played college baseball for the Gonzaga Bulldogs as a pitcher and first baseman.

At Gonzaga, Gonzales won the West Coast Conference Player of the Year, Pitcher of the Year, and Freshman of the Year awards. Gonzales also was chosen as an All-American and named the John Olerud Award winner for 2013. The Cardinals selected him with the 19th overall pick in the first round of the June 2013 MLB draft. In Minor League Baseball in 2014, he was a Texas League midseason All-Star and Pitcher of the Week selection and the Cardinals' Minor League Pitcher of the Year. He made his MLB debut in 2014, and underwent Tommy John surgery in 2016 for a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow. The Cardinals traded him to the Mariners in 2017.

Seattle Mariners award winners and league leaders

The following is a list of Seattle Mariners professional baseball players and managers who have won various awards or other accolades from Major League Baseball or other organizations or have led the American League in some statistical category at the end of the season.

Veteran players
(pre-1947 era)


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