John Olerud : Owner of Best Mets Season Batting Average & All Time on Base % (1997 - 1999)

John Garrett Olerud was born August 5, 1968, in Seattle Washington. He would become known as “Johnny O” as his playing days went on.

The tall sleek six-foot five left-handed hitter, attended Washington State University. There he was a star player, eventually making the College Baseball Hall of Fame.

He earned the Baseball America College Player of the Year, batting .464 with 23 HRs 81 RBIs. As a pitcher he was an incredible as well going 15-0.

In 1989 he suffered from a brain aneurysm, but recovered quickly & when he returned, he hit an incredible .359. 

As a result of the aneurysm, he would wear a batting helmet during his career while playing first base.

He was soon drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the third round of the 1989 draft. Johnny O was brought right up to the Blue Jays big league club, playing in six games. 

In 1990 he became a regular first baseman; but was platooned by manager Cito Gaston. Olerud batted .265 with 14 HRs & 48 RBIs. His numbers gradually got better, in 1992 he hit .284 with 16 HRs & 66 RBIs as the Jays went on to win the World Series.

1992 Post Season- ALCS: In Game #4 of the ALCS against Oakland, he had four hits with two RBIs including a HR, as the Blue Jays went up three games to one in the Series.

In the clincher Game #6 at Sky Dome he had two more hits, including an RBI double. Overall he batted .348 with one HR two doubles & four RBIs.

1992 Word Series:  In the exciting World Series win over the Atlanta Braves, he batted .308 playing in four games. He collected two hits in both the Game #4 Blue Jay win & the Game #5 loss.

In the Jays 1993 repeat Championship season, Olerud had an incredible break out career year. He led the majors in hitting, batting .363. He also led the AL in doubles (54) & on base percentage (.473). Olerud collected 200 hits with along 24 HRs 107 RBIs & 109 runs scored.

He made his first All Star team that year & came in third in the MVP voting. He was one of the leaders on  the Blue Jays & their road to another World Series title.

1993 Post Season- ALCS: In the ALCS victory against the Chicago White Sox he batted .348 (8-23) with three RBIs. In Game #1 at Comiskey Park, he collected three hits with three RBIs in the 7-3 Blue Jay win. He drove in another run in the Game #5 win at Chicago.

1993 World Series: In the World Series win over the Phillies, he batted just .235. In Game #1 at Skydome, he had two hits & hit a HR in the Jays 8-5 victory. He would drive in another run the next night as well.

After the Championships: Olerud hit over .290 two more seasons in Toronto but never lived up to the huge expectations after his great 1993 season. 

By 1996 Carlos Delgado was hitting HRs at Skydome and ready to play first base. Olerud was never a favorite of Blue Jay, manager Cito Gaston.

That December he was traded to the New York Mets for pitcher, Robert Person.  Many believe manager Gaston was trying to urge Olerud to be more of a power hitter, which led to lower batting averages, especially the .274 that season. That was not the type of hitter, Olerud was.

Mets Career: John Olerud was a true professional, and brought one of the sweetest swings in baseball to Shea Stadium.

On the field he was a great defensive player, coming in among the top first baseman in the league in fielding percentage, assists & put outs, making very few errors.

In his three seasons with the Mets, he would hit over .290 with at least 150 hits, 90 RBIs, 85 walks, thirty plus doubles & play in 154 games or more each season.

1997: On Opening Day he gave Mets fans a taste of what was to come from his bat as he got two hits & drove in a run in the Mets loss to the San Diego Padres. In the second game of the year, he hit a two run HR & drove in three runs in the Meets loss.

He had two hits in each of his first three games and in the month of April hit .356 with a dozen multiple hit games & drove in twenty runs. In the second week of May he drove in runs in five straight games, including hitting a HR off Andy Benes in the Mets 2-0 win behind Bobby Jones on May 10th.

Walk off HR: On May 19th, the Mets were down 3-2 to the Colorado Rockies in a Monday afternoon matinee. Edgardo Alfonso got on with a one out double. Then John Olerud came up facing Jeff McCurry, he lined a HR over the right field fence to beat the Colorado Rockies 4-3. 

He hit another HR the next day in Florida and two days on May 22nd, had a three hit four RBI Day at Philadelphia in a 10-3 Mets victory.

In June he hit HRs in back-to-back games at Wrigley Field including a three run shot off Bob Patterson in the Mets June 11th 6-5 win. 

First Ever Subway Series Game: One of those games came on June 16th in the first regular season subway series game with the Mets & the AL New York team.

Olerud's 1st inning double off Andy Petite drove in Bernard Gilkey for the first ever subway series run. In the 7th he singled with the bases loaded to drive in two more runs, helping Dave Mlicki to a 6-0 shutout as the Mets took the first ever regular season subway series win.

On June 29th, he hit a pair of two run HRs against the Pirates in Pittsburgh leading New York to a 10-8 win. In the month he had four separate games where drove in three runs or more. 

He entered July drove in runs in five straight games & was batting .323 but then he cooled down a bit & had his average tail off to .293 by August. 

In August he had an eleven-game hit streak and drove in 13 runs. In August 5th he drove in the first run of a game against the Cardinals where Edgardo Alfonso won the game on a walk off sac fly. 

On August 10th he homered twice in a loss to the Astros at Shea Stadium. On August 13th Olerud drove in two runs against the St. Louis Cardinals at Shea in a 6-5 win, where Mark McGwire homered twice for his 37 & 38th of the year.

On August 22nd, Olerud came to bat in the 9th inning with the Mets down 8-5. He doubled off the Padres relief ace Trevor Hoffman and then scored when Todd Hundley hit a two run HR. The Mets tied it & won in extra innings.

On September 1st the Mets played his old Blue Jays team at Shea Stadium, Olerud hit a HR off Pat Hentgen leading the Mets to a 3-0 win. It was the only hit he got in that three-game series.

Two Five RBI Games: On September 11th, he had a big four hit day where he hit his 19th HR of the year, a solo shot off Rick DeHart. He drove in five runs against the Montreal Expos, in a 9-5 Met win. 

On September 24th he hit a grand slam HR off Pittsburgh's Chris Peters & matched his season high five RBI game in a 7-5 Mets win. That week he won the NL Player of the Week Award.

He closed out the season driving in 14 runs, with at least one RBI in the last six games. The Mets improved to a 88-74 third place finish, with 17 more wins than the previous year.

In his first Mets season, he led the club in doubles (34) RBIs (102) on base % (.400%) & walks (85- which were 7th most in the NL). He was second on the club in hits (154) & hit .294 with 22 HRs.

1998: Olerud put on a hitting display rarely seen by a player in a Mets uniform. 

He had an Opening Day hit in the Mets Amazing 1-0 win over the Phillies. The Mets Alberto Castillo singled in Matt Franco with the walk off run off Ricky Bottalico in the bottom of the 14th. The next day Olerud hit his first HR of the year. In the fourth game of the year, he collected three hits with two RBIs, leading the Mets to a 7-6 win over the Pirates. 

On April 12th, he broke a 4-4 tie in Milwaukee, with a two run HR off Mike Meyers. They proved to be the game winning runs in the 6-4 win. On April 19th, he had another three-hit day & drove in three runs in a 14-0 Mets blow out in Cincinnati. He finished April batting .359 with a .485 on base % 

On May 19th, his two run HR off the Reds Stan Belinda, led the Mets to a 5-3 win. On May 22nd, his 5th inning two run single, proved to be another game winner. The Mets went on to a 3-2 win over the Brewers at Shea. That week he drove in runs in four straight games.

Overall for May, he hit safely in 20 of 25 games & had ten multi-hit games. He drove in 18 runs getting the average up to .372. That May the Mets got Mike Piazza in a trade & the line up got even stronger.

On June 5th he had a three hit day in Boston during  inter league play, hitting a three run HR at Fenway Park helping the Mets to a 9-2 win over the Red Sox going on a tear. 

23 Game Hit Streak: Staring on July 19th, Olerud set a Mets record for left hand hitters, with a 23-game hit streak going into August. The streak began at Shea Stadium & went through a six game Mets win streak. In that stretch they won eight of ten games. On July 22nd, Olerud hit his 12th HR of the year in a 7-5 win at Milwaukee, in the first game of a double header. 

As the Mets win streak ended at six, Olerud had two hits with a HR at Wrigley Field on July 25th. On July 28th, the Mets hosted the San Diego Padres & Olerud had a three-hit day, driving in a run in the 7-1 Mets win. 

The next night, he helped Al Leiter & John Franco to a victory, driving in two runs in a 7-6 win over the Padres.

As the month of July ended Olerud had hit safely in his 15th straight game & was batting .338 amongst the top in the NL.

Two Player of the Week Awards: In August he won two different Player of the Week Awards, one for August 9th & another for August 20th. 

 The Mets started the month at Shea, with a four-game set against the Dodgers. Olerud hit safely in the series split with the Dodgers, gathering six hits. On August 2nd, Olerud drove in three runs in a 9-3 win over the Dodgers at Shea.

Next the San Francisco Giants came to town & Olerud got even hotter. He would have three straight multi-hit games, collecting seven hits in the three games series, with a pair of doubles in the second game. He extended the hit streak to twenty games.

 On August 6th he homered off Alvin Morman in the 7th inning leading the Mets to a 9-7 win, highlighted by a Luis Lopez walk off single. The next night he drove in three more runs in a 8-7 win at Coord Field. Mike Piazza also drove in three runs that night. On August 9th he had a four-hit game extending the streak to 22 games, getting his average up to .355. The next day the hitting streak would end at 23 games. He went 0-3 in St. Louis.

Trivia: Olerud collected 40 hits during the streak, 10 doubles, 5 HRs & 19 RBIs. Olerud still holds the Mets mark for left hand hitters with the 23-game hit streak.

On Saturday August 15th, he led the Mets with a two run HR off Bob Wolcott in Arizona. He collected three hits & drove in three runs in the Mets 5-4 victory. Three days later as the Mets returned home, he hit a two run HR off Pedro Astacio as the Mets beat Colorado 6-2 in the first game of a double header while bashing four HRs. On August 28th, he blasted a three run HR in the top of the 7th inning to tie the game in Los Angeles. The Mets went on to an extra inning win 5-4.

In August he would have four different games where he drove in three runs each time. He closed out the month with another nine-game hit streak. He was fighting Larry Walker for the NL batting title as he closed the month batting .344

In September he had ten multiple hit games, and during the week of September 16th he had 12 hits over a four game span. That month he hit four HRs, including a two run shot against the Atlanta Braves on September 5th, leading to a 5-4 Mets win.

On September 15th he hit another HR & drove in four runs in an 8-4 Met win at Houston. He closed out the year driving in runs in six of his last ten games while drawing walks in each of his last nine games.

Mets Record Books: On the 1998 season he set a Mets record for batting average, hitting .354breaking Cleon Jones .340 mark set three decades earlier in 1969. He came in second in the NL Batting race to Colorado's Larry Walker, losing out on the final day of the season. 

Olerud also set a Mets club mark with a .447 on base percentage (2nd in the NL) & runs created (138).  Olerud drew 96 walks (4th in the NL) hit 22 HRs, with 36 doubles & drove in 93 runs. His 23 game hit streak was best ever for a left hand batter.

1999 Mets Wild Card Season: In 1999 he was part the Mets so called “best infield ever” along with Eduardo Alfonzo, Rey Ordonez, & Robin Ventura, as they graced the cover of Sports Illustrated with that title.

For the second year in a row, he posted the league’s second-best fielding % (.996). 

Trivia: That year he joined Felix Millan as being the only two Mets to ever play all 162 games in a season. He helped the Mets to a Wild Card berth & their first post season appearance in a dozen years.

He began the year with an Opening Day HR in Florida, but the Mets lost the game 6-2. The Mets won the next two games & Olerud drove in runs in both of them. On April 10th he tied the game up with a 6th inning RBI single off Dustin Hermanson. The Mets went on to a 4-3 win over the Expos. The next night he collected three hits including three doubles in a 6-3 win. He would have an RBI in five of the first seven Mets games that season. 

On April 18th, he hit two HRs in a 4-2 losing effort to the Expos at Shea. He closed out April & went into May driving runs in six straight games. Two of those games, the Mets won by one run.

On May 2nd, he had two of the five Mets hits off Kirk Rueter & drove in one of the two Mets runs helping Masato Yoshi, Dennis Cook & John Franco in a 2-0 shut out of the Giants at Shea.

In May he had a 13-game hit streak, hit four HRs & drove in 22 runs. On May 13th, he hit a two run HR off the Phils Chad Ojea, driving in three runs & leading the Mets to a 7-3 win at Philly. 

Olerud drove in runs in five straight games, with nine RBIs. From May 14th to May 23rd, he drove in 14 runs in that ten-game stretch, although the Mets just won five of those games. 

Walk Off Base Hit: On Sunday May 23rd, in front of 34,950 fans at Shea the Mets faced the Phillies. Rick Reed went up against Curt Schilling. Schilling took a 4-0 lead to the bottom of the 9th inning before the Mets tied up the game. Olerud came to bat with the bases loaded, after Eduardo Alfonso was hit by a pitch. Olerud singled to left field with his only Mets career walk off hit.

On June 18th, he began another eight-game hit streak, that was highlighted by a four-hit day on June 25th in a 10-2 win at Atlanta against the rival Braves. He had two RBIs that night & drove in seven runs in an eight-game span. He went into July batting .309. 

In the July 9th, subway series at Shea Stadium, he hit a HR off Roger Clemens, breaking a 1-1 tie. Later in that game, Piazza continued his domination over Clemens with a HR that led to the Mets to the 5-2 win. It was his only hit in the three-game series, although he drew two walks & scored a run the next day in the Mets 9-8 win, highlighted by Matt Franco's walk off hit off Mariano Rivera. 

As the Mets inter league play continued to Tampa Florida, he drove in runs in all three games, as the Mets took two of three. He drove in another run  n Baltimore & had three more RBIs over two games in Montreal. The Mets won six of eight on that trip from there went on a seven game win streak.  

In mid-July he drove in runs in nine of thirteen games. On July 30th, he hit a HR off former Met Rick Aguilera, in the top of the 9th inning at Wrigley Field. The HR proved to be a game winner as Sammy Sosa homered off Armando Benitez in the bottom of the 9th, but the Cubs fell short by one run.

On August 10th he drove in three of the Mets four runs in a 4-3 win over the Padres. He broke up the 3-3 ties in the bottom of the 7th inning with a n RBI single scoring Rickey Henderson.

On August 1st, he drove in two runs in the rubber game of the Cubs series at Wrigley. The game was won in extra innings by New York, as pitcher, Pat Mahomes drove in the game winning run.

On August 10th, he drove in three runs in a 4-3 win over the Padres at Shea. His RBI single off Andy Ashby in the 7th inning proved to be the game winner. He drove in two more the next game, in a 12-5 Mets romp. Olerud would draw 11 walks in the next seven games.

Grand Slam Five RBI Game: On August 22nd, with the Mets down 6-1 in the bottom of the 8th inning, Olerud hit a grand slam HR off the Cardinals, Rich Croushore bringing it to a 6-5 game. Mike Piazza followed with another HR to put the Mets ahead. After Armando Benitez blew another lead but the Mets won it in the 9th inning, with an Edgardo Alfonzo's walk off base hit. Olerud drove in five runs in that game, his biggest RBI game of the 1999 season. 

In September as the Mets chased the Braves in the NL East, & were top contenders in the wild card race, Olerud hit safely in all but seven games during the stretch. 

He started out the month, with a three-hit game where he hit two doubles & scored three runs in the Mets 9-5 win at Houston. On September 19th he drove in four runs & hit a big three run HR off the Phillies Paul Byrd, to keep the Mets one game back in the standings as they beat the Phillies at Shea Stadium 8-6.

On September 25th, he had another three hits game, with a HR & two RBIs in a losing Mets effort. 

Grand Slam: On September 29th, although the Mets were seven games back of the Braves by now, they were still in the wild card race. Olerud hit a grand slam off the Braves Greg Maddox leading the way to a 9-2 Mets home win.

The Mets finished the regular season in a tie for the Wild Card spot with the Cincinnati Reds. They lost a coin toss & had the game played in Cincinnati.

1999 Wild Card Playoff: In the final game of the season, he had two hits in the wild card playoff game where the Mets beat the Reds 5-0 in Cincinnati advancing to the playoffs.

On the year he hit .298 with a .427 on base percentage (5th best in the NL) hitting 19 HRs with 39 doubles 107 runs scored & 96 RBIs. He also set a Mets club record for walks (125) which was fourth best in the NL & times on base (309). The Mets got to the NLCS and within two games of the World Series.

1999 Post Season- NLDS: In the NLDS he tore up the Arizona Diamondbacks pitching hitting .438 with 6 RBIs & a HR in the four games. 

In Game #1 he had three hits, including a 3rd inning two run HR off Randy Johnson in the Mets 8-5 win at Arizona.

In the Game #2 loss, he went hitless but drove in the Mets only run, when Ricket Henderson scored on his groundout in the 3rd inning.

Olerud returned to have a big Game #3 at Shea Stadium. In the 3rd inning, he singled home the Mets first run with a base hit off Omar Dahl. He then scored on a Robin Ventura ground out. 

In the Mets big six run, 6th inning, Johnny O singled off Dan Plesac scoring Bobby Bonilla & Rickey Henderson making it 5-2 Mets, as they went on to a 9-2 victory, in the first playoff game in 13 years at Shea Stadium.

He closed out the NLDS with another two-hit game in Game #4, also drawing a walk.  

Todd Pratt’s walk off HR off Matt Mantei, advanced the Mets to the 1999 NLCS.

1999 NLCS: In the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves, Olerud started out slow collecting just two hits in the first three games (3-11), which were all Mets losses. 

Then he continued his hot hitting from the NLDS with six hits in the final three games. He finished the series batting .296 with two HRs & six RBIs.

In Game #4 with the Mets backs against the wall, down three games to none, Olerud helped spark the club as he drove in all three runs in the Mets 3-2 win.

First he hit solo HR off John Smoltz in the 6th inning breaking up a scoreless tie. 

Then in the 8th inning, with the Mets down 2-1, Roger Cedeno & Melvin Mora were on base as Olerud stepped in New Yorks Public Enemy #1- reliever John Rocker. 

Rocker had made negative comments about the Mets fans & New York City. He also taunted them as he would walk off the field.

But Olerud shut the nig guy up on the national spotlight, with a base hit to centerfield scoring both runs & delaying any chance the Braves had to clinch the NL Pennant in New York. The won the game 3-2.

In Game #5 at Shea Stadium, Olerud set the tone with a 1st inning two run HR off Braves Cy Young winner, Greg Maddox. 

He would have two hits in the 15-inning epic, won by the Mets on Robin Ventura's grand slam single in the bottom of the 15th inning.

In the final Game #6 he had two more hits, & helped the Mets tie the game while down 7-3 by singling home a run & scoring on Mike Piazza’s two run HR in the 7th inning.

After the Wild Card Season:  In 2000 he decided he wanted to go back to his hometown and raise his kids in the state of Washington. 

They had a better school system and he wanted to be able to take them to school during the season instead of living across the country. 

He broke many Mets fans hearts when he signed on with the Seattle Mariners as a free agent. If he was on the 2000 NL pennant winner things may have turned out with a Championship.

Trivia: John Olerud was voted one of the 50 best Mets players of all time. 

Mets Career Stats & Leader Board: In his three-year Mets career John Olerud has the best all time Mets on base % (in at least 100 at bats) with .425%.

He played in 476 games (54th most in Met history) collecting 524 hits (34th on the Mets all-time list). At first base is fourth in Mets games played with 463.

He batted .315 (5th best on Mets all-time list). Olerud hit 63 HRs with 109 doubles (25th on the Mets all-time list) 5 triples 291 RBIs (30th on the Mets all-time list) 306 walks & 288 runs scored (31st on the Mets all-time list). 

Olerud went on to play four & a half seasons with the Mariner batting .300 or better twice & driving in over 100 twice as well. In 2001 he made the AL All Star team. He would make the post season twice getting to the ALCS both times. In the 2000 post season he batted .325 with 4 HRs 4 RBIs & ten hits with four walks.

He briefly played with the AL New Yor team for 49 games of the 2004 season & then finished his career with the Boston Red Sox in 2005.

Career Stats: Olerud finished his 17-season career winning a batting title, three Gold Gloves, five Player of the Week Awards & making two All Star appearances. 

He played in 2234 games (136th all time) with a .295 batting average 2239 hits (174th all time) a .398 on base percentage (70th all time) 500 doubles (63rd all time) & 1275 walks (51st all time) & 157 intentional walks (45th all time). He has 1139 runs scored, 88 hit by pitches (138th all time) 96 sac flies (44th all time) 255 HRs & 1230 RBIs.

Interestingly the slow footed Olerud played in 2234 games, and he never stole a base. He also grounded into 232 double plays (57th most all time).

At first base he won three Gold Gloves. lead the league in fielding twice, assists three times & games played. He played 2053 games (17th all time) with 1418 assists (11th all time) made 16165 put outs (33rd all time) posted a .995 fielding % (16th all time) & helped turn 1581 double plays (15th all time).

Olerud was fortunate enough to play in eight different post seasons, getting to two World Series & seven Championship Series. Overall, he hit .278 with 9 HRs 10 doubles & 38 RBIs in the post season.

Family: John Olerud & his wife Kelly, are high school sweethearts. They live in the Washington suburb of Clyde Hill. They had three children. 

In 2020 their 19-year-old daughter Jordan, passed away from complications of a chromosomal disorder.


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