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Friday, November 16, 2012

Governor Kasich pitches Al Oliver to the Hall of Fame

(Giant impact hypothesis aside) If only Governor Christie could run into Rick Reuschel.

Ohio Governor John Kasich has gone to bat for former Pittsburgh Pirates great and Portsmouth native Al Oliver, by writing a letter to the Baseball Hall of Fame, urging Oliver’s election. Now, the Hall has responded with a response to Kasich.

“We thank you for taking the time to write and share your recommendation and suggestion with us,” Brad Horn, Senior Director of Communications and Education, said. “Your letter will become part of materials that are available to members of the Historical Overview Committee and the Era committees that consider candidates for Hall of Fame election.”

“”First of all I have to give the governor credit for following up on what he said,” Oliver said Wednesday afternoon. “Because in this life, you meet people who promise you a lot of things, but they don’t come through. So I have to tip my cap to him for following up. The common thing we have going for us is the Pittsburgh connection, and I know people that he knew in McKees Rocks (PA) where he’s from. Some of my best friends are from the same place that he’s from. And I feel honored about it.”

...Oliver said the governor asked him two questions.

“He asked me why I was not in the Hall of Fame,” Oliver said. “I said, ‘governor, I really don’t know,’ because he saw the stats and he strongly believes I belong.”

Oliver, who won the batting title in 1982 with a .331 batting average, was a lifetime .303 hitter, appearing in the All-Star game in 1972, 1975, 1976, 1980, 1981, 1982 and 1983.

“The last question he asked me, point blank, ‘do you belong?’” Oliver said. “It was a direct question and it had to be a direct answer and I said, ‘governor, I do.’”

Repoz Posted: November 16, 2012 at 05:50 AM | 15 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history

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   1. Russ Posted: November 16, 2012 at 06:51 AM (#4304052)
The Pittsburgh connection thing is so true. I've met so many other people who have moved away from Pittsburgh and it really creates a weird, immediate bond. I don't know if it's true for other places... it's not true for Seattle or Montreal (which are two places I've lived). But I know people not from Pittsburgh who spent some time living there and they have the weird Pittsburgh connection thing too.

   2. Mike Emeigh Posted: November 16, 2012 at 09:27 AM (#4304082)
Question #1 when I run into Pittsburgh natives in other places: "What neighborhood?"

If you are on Facebook and from Pittsburgh, I recommend that you join the group Pittsburgh Nostalgia and Trivia.

-- MWE

EDIT: We had a saying "Pittsburgh born, Pittsburgh bred, when I die I'll be Pittsburgh dead".
   3. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 16, 2012 at 10:13 AM (#4304102)
I looked up his stats and while I don't think he's a HOFer, I was kinda puzzled why he didn't at least have more support. 2700 hits, lifetime .300 hitter, Top 5 MVP balloting three times, seven-time All-Star. He's gotta be one of the best players of that era I really know nothing about.
   4. BDC Posted: November 16, 2012 at 10:18 AM (#4304106)
Comps for Oliver:

Player          Rfield   PA OPS+  SB      Pos
Sammy Sosa          85 9896  128 234   
*98D/7
Lou Whitaker        75 9967  117 143     
*4/D
Goose Goslin        50 9829  128 176  
*79/835
Willie Keeler       30 9553  127 490 
*9/54786
Carlton Fisk        27 9853  117 128  
*2D/735
Chili Davis        
-15 9997  121 142  D897/13
Mickey Vernon      
-22 9838  116 137    *3/79
Ted Simmons        
-33 9685  118  21 *2D3/759
Al Oliver          
-40 9778  121  84   837D/9
Jeff Kent          
-43 9537  123  94  *453/D6 


There are few closely similar players, and this list tells us little we don't already know: long careers with fine but not dominant hitting need something, defense or speed or je ne sais quoi, to make a Hall. Chili Davis is a remarkably close comp in a lot of respects, and if he's not perhaps as highly regarded as Oliver, it's due to the spell cast by a .303 batting average. Davis's career BA was thirty points lower, his OBP fifteen points higher. (Their career SLG are identical; Davis had more HR power but Oliver was of course a fantastic hitter of screaming line-drive doubles.)

   5. BDC Posted: November 16, 2012 at 10:22 AM (#4304109)
one of the best players of that era I really know nothing about

To flesh out the picture a bit, Oliver was sort of Jim Rice's elder brother in TEH FEAR category. He hit the ball as hard as anybody, and as I alluded to in #4, he didn't hit it high in the air. I've long had a set of players you hated to see come up in a crucial situation, because they'd immediately drive in 2 or 3 runs with a double. Oliver was the archetype (later members of the club would be Brett, Molitor, Garciaparra). As a defender, he was stowed at 1B early in his career because the Pirates had a boatload of great outfielders, and then traced a classic trajectory from being a decent CF to being a DH/PH type; but he never lost the ability to scare you to death with the bat.
   6. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: November 16, 2012 at 10:30 AM (#4304117)
BDC, in my memory, every bit as scary as fellow Pirate LHs Stargell and Parker.

What does the slash mean in your Pos column?
   7. JustDan Posted: November 16, 2012 at 11:18 AM (#4304159)
According to BB-ref, the anything after the / means less than 10 games played at that position. But that is usually for a season. Not sure what it means for career stats.
   8. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: November 16, 2012 at 11:40 AM (#4304185)
The Pittsburgh connection thing is so true.


Yep. My sophomore-senior dorm at college in NC had this little colony of expatriate Pittsburghers. Even when you leave town, you never really lose that part of your identity.
   9. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: November 16, 2012 at 11:47 AM (#4304195)
I loved Al Oliver as a kid. There was something about him being number 0 that made him so delightfully frightening as BDC alludes to.

Also, it's utterly meaningless but I remember against the Red Sox one time Jerry Remy was at bat and Oliver was about 10 feet from the left field line. I've never seen a player played in such an extreme fashion.
   10. BDC Posted: November 16, 2012 at 01:25 PM (#4304296)
every bit as scary as fellow Pirate LHs Stargell and Parker

I followed the Phillies in that era, and the Pirates' LHB ruined many an afternoon. Who knows how much value Steve Carlton specifically added to the Phillies by being able to control those guys. Parker and Stargell (despite Stargell's famous "coffee with a fork" line) hit Carlton OK (.258 and .262 respectively). But Oliver hit .197 career off Carlton, a very impressive feat by Lefty.
   11. Ned Garvin: Male Prostitute Posted: November 16, 2012 at 03:25 PM (#4304439)
I always think of Al Oliver as a slower, stronger Vada Pinson in my head. Given that both were before my time, I am sure the comparison makes no sense.
   12. Walt Davis Posted: November 16, 2012 at 06:34 PM (#4304637)
Huh? I never had that sense of "fear" with Oliver at the plate. He was a damn good hitter of course but he wasn't physically impressive and he wasn't gonna clobber a HR. I mean, I saved my fear for Stargell and McCovey and Morgan and Perez (that's a Cubs thing) -- if you were getting spooked by every Oliver that came along, you were on the edge of your seat a lot. :-)

If you adjust for era differences in power, he was maybe Cano as a 1B/CF (or Pedroia or prime Vidro) ... b-r also turns up VMart or Billy Butler as reasonably similar hitters but Oliver had a lot more defensive value than Butler obviously. The big changes in K-rates and ISO make it hard to find obvious contemporary comps for Oliver (Melky?).
   13. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: November 16, 2012 at 06:52 PM (#4304649)
The Pittsburgh connection thing is so true. I've met so many other people who have moved away from Pittsburgh and it really creates a weird, immediate bond. I don't know if it's true for other places... it's not true for Seattle or Montreal (which are two places I've lived). But I know people not from Pittsburgh who spent some time living there and they have the weird Pittsburgh connection thing too.

My Mom lived in Pittsburgh for several years, and never seems to give it a moment's thought (she's always been far more Memphis than anything).
On the other hand, my brother has never been to Pittsburgh, but has been a Steelers fan since 30 seconds after they won the Super Bowl for the first time.
People are funny.
   14. Bruce Markusen Posted: November 16, 2012 at 07:07 PM (#4304664)
When Oliver first came up, the Pirates promoted him as their next superstar, their next Clemente. That didn't happen, but the two were very similar in their aggressiveness at the plate; they pretty much swung at anything, and they both plastered line drives all over the field. Oliver was a very, very good player, but probably not a Hall of Fame player. If he had played his whole career in center field, then a better case could be made for him, but he was really a left fielder/first baseman, and that's where he ended up playing most of the time with the Pirates, Rangers, and Expos.

The Yankees wanted him very badly in the early eighties, and came close to getting him in a trade with Texas, but Oscar Gamble vetoed the deal. If the trade to New York had happened, Oliver would have received a lot more attention. A fun player to watch.
   15. Rennie's Tenet Posted: November 17, 2012 at 12:55 AM (#4304794)
If you are on Facebook and from Pittsburgh, I recommend that you join the group Pittsburgh Nostalgia and Trivia.


There's also a very funny set of "Pittsburgh Dad" videos that are being compiled on youtube by a Pittsburgh DJ. Basically everything your father ever said to you about sports, the thermostat, closing the screen door, etc.

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