MLB Baseball: John Olerud
Of all the baseball players to come out of the Seattle area, is there a better pure hitter than John Olerud? Not only did Johnny O make a career out of his beautiful swing, he overcame seemingly insurmountable odds to do it.
From the moment he arrived at Washington State University, Olerud projected to be a major-league star.
He hit .414 as a freshman and, in 1988, he hit .464 with 23 homers and an .876 slugging percentage to win the Baseball America College Player of the Year award.
Olerud’s career and life were seriously threatened in 1989, when he suffered a brain aneurysm. However, armed with his trademark batting helmet, which he wore in the field for protection, he bounced back. Olerud debuted with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1989.
Olerud won World Series titles with the Jays in 1992 and 1993 and will forever be remembered for his amazing 1993 season.
He batted .363 with 24 homers and 107 RBI; his batting average remained over .400 as late as August 24. Olerud earned one of his two career All-Star selections.
Later, Olerud excelled as a New York Met, setting a single-season franchise record with a .354 average in 1998. A three-time Gold Glove winner, Olerud was featured with fellow Mets Edgardo Alfonzo, Rey Ordonez and Robin Ventura in what Sports Illustrated dubbed the “Greatest Infield Ever” in 1999.
After his time with the Mets, Johnny O returned to his roots, signing with the Seattle Mariners in 2000.
He was an All-Star in 2001 and tallied two 100-RBI campaign with the Mariners.
While his career fell short of Hall-of-Fame credentials, John Olerud was widely regarded as one of the best players of his era, both offensively and defensively.
He represents one of Seattle sports’ greatest tales of perseverance.