|A CLOSER WITH AN OFF-THE-HOOK CURVE.|
|OLSON WAS AN O'S SAVIOR.|
DEFINING THE PLAYER
- Most dominating closers use the fastball as their primary weapon. Gregg Olson rode a devastating curveball to ninth-inning success. The Orioles' first-round pick in 1988 rose quickly from the minors to become stopper during their "Why Not'' '89 season when they won 87 games and finished second in the AL East. After winning AL Rookie of the Year and averaging 27 saves in his first five full seasons, a torn elbow ligament in '93 ended his Orioles career. He enjoyed a comeback season with the Diamondbacks in '98, saving 30 games, but his best days were behind him in Baltimore. He finished his 14-year career with 217 saves and a 79-percent save percentage.
- Perhaps unfairly, but as an O's fan repeatedly calling 1-800 "scorelines'' for updates during the '89 division chase that September, I can't forget Olson bouncing that curve in Toronto. Of course, the Birds wouldn't have gotten to Game 160 without Olson. On Sept. 29 with the Orioles leading 1-0 and trailing the Jays by a game in the final series of the season, Olson came on in the eighth with two outs to face Kelly Gruber with the tying run on third. The 58-foot wild pitch tied the game, and the Blue Jays scored the winner in the 11th. The magical run ended the next day with another loss.
- Olson followed up his Rookie of the Year season with an even better encore in '90. He was an All-Star for the only time in his career, saving a career-high and Orioles franchise-record 37 games, converting 88 percent of his chances.
FIVE FINAL FACTS
- Olson was the first reliever to win the AL Rookie of the Year, saving 27 games with a 1.69 ERA.
- Finished sixth in the AL Cy Young voting in '89, a testament to his value to the Birds.
- Only July 13, 1991, he combined with Bob Milacki (six innings), Mike Flanagan (one) and Mark Williamson (one) on a no-hitter against the Athletics. Olson struck out two batters in his 12-pitch exclamation point to the 2-0 no-no combo.
- After his elbow injury, Olson tried catching on with seven teams before landing the expansion Arizona closing job in '98.
- Inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame in '08.
|ORIOLES SPRING TRAINING 1990: OH, THE MEMORIES.|