Friday, March 11, 2011

#52 - Al Oliver (PIT)

Al Oliver.  A name that brings back some terrible memories.  Some are terrible because he was a good player for another team that beat you.  Some are terrible because he was signed by your team and was terrible.  He played 18 years in the majors, a bit over half of them with the Pirates.  I always viewed him as a good player, but not the caliber of a Clemente or Stargell.  Then when my Giants signed him in 1984 after a number of All-Star seasons, a few 100 RBI years and 8 consecutive tours over .300, things looked promising.  But he was a bust.  Even though he batted over .300 for most of his stint with the G-Men, he had so few RBI.  He knocked in only 34 in 360 at bats, and became an automatic boo for the fans.  They offed him to the Phils in August to ease the pain.  It was the beginning of the end of his career.

But that doesn't really taint his career overall.  He won a ring with the great 1971 Pirates team, and was a strong visual impression in the black and gold. He finished his career with an impressive .303.  I remember Al shipping off to Texas and taking his last initial as his uniform number - 0.  He played like anything other than a zero.  I know this paved the way for Odibe McDowell doing it with the Rangers later on in the 80's.  Or at least I think so.

Cartoon: Al is showing off his new Rawlings first baseman's mitt.  Al made numerous pitches to Willie McCovey and Willie Stargell to adopt the same piece of leather, but to no avail. 

Ballpark background: Candlestick Park. 


  1. As someone who watched a lot of Braves & Mets games in '83... I quickly grew to respectfully resent Oliver too.

    You sure this pic was taken at Candlestick? I think he's wearing a Pirates home uniform.

  2. Devon,

    Yes, I'm sure it's Candlestick. I lived there for several decades. :) The uniform is actually a light gray, and if you stare at it closely enough you can make out the color difference between the white trim on his sleeve and waist and the gray of the uni.