Thursday, March 5, 2009

#57 -- Bob Oliver

Bob Oliver

For the 2nd time in the last 3 cards, we've got a player whose son is still pitching in the big leagues. Bob's son is Darren Oliver, who I thought was finished about 5 years ago, but he's lefthanded, so he'll be in the big leagues for another 8 years.

There's no denying Bob in this photo. Where do we start? I may have thought John Ellis was lazy in his posed "first base stretch" photo, but Bob's going all out. Looks to me like he's reaching out to get a throw from Cookie Rojas while the Royals are attempting to double up Bert Campaneris. This was likely taken at the Royals' old spring training home in Fort Myers. From what I've read, it's fallen into disarray, but some college teams use it. From what I could tell of the street view on Google Maps, it's not really anywhere I want to visit the next time I go to Fort Myers.

Then, there's the satin jacket. What's up, Bob? Did you forget to wear your uniform top on picture day? Spill a cherry Kool-Aid on your shirt? Surely it's not that cold in Spring Training. Bob sure does a good job of modeling the Royals' jackets I remember from my youth. Plus, he's featuring the John Olerud style of wearing the batting helmet in the field almost 20 years before Olerud made it fashionable.

Bob was one of the Royals' first big power hitters. He had some of their most memorable "firsts" since he played for the 1969 expansion Royals. He had the first 6-6 game in 9 innings. He also had the first grand slam, on July 4 against Jim Bouton. Imagine that, it took over 3 months for the Royals to hit a granny.

However, when the Royals picked up John Mayberry, Bob was expendable. He mostly played first, but he could go to 3rd or play the outfield without embarrassing himself. The Royals got good production while Bob was there, but they didn't get much for trading him. They picked up Tom Murphy, who spot started some in 1972, then flipped him to the Cardinals for Al Santorini. As a Cardinal fan, Al Santorini couldn't have been taken off our hands too soon. He never played in the big leagues for the Royals. Great. In a matter of 2 deals, they turned Bob into zilch. Bob's career didn't do so great after leaving KC. He did fine in 1972 as the Angels' first baseman, but then his knees started to bother him and he bounced around and slid out of baseball.

Bob is now retired and runs a baseball academy looking to give instruction and opportunities to athletes in Sacramento.

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