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Al Oliver

Al Oliver
Hard-swinging Al Oliver won the 1982 National League batting title after having finished in the top ten seven of the previous ten seasons. An outfielder, Oliver came up through the Pirates' organization, joining several other black and Latin ballplayers on the successful Pittsburgh teams of the 1970s. Originally a center fielder, Oliver later switched to first base and designated hitter when he played for Texas in his only stint in the junior circuit. He batted .300 ten times and retired with more than 2,700 hits and a .303 career mark.

Teams Al Oliver Played For

Pittsburgh Pirates (1968-1977)
Texas Rangers (1978-1981)
Montreal Expos (1982-1983)
San Francisco Giants (1984)
Philadelphia Phillies (1984)
Los Angeles Dodgers (1985)
Toronto Blue Jays (1985)

Where does Al Oliver rank among baseball greats?

Al Oliver ranks #26 among the Top 50 all-time at CF. Rankings ⇒

Best Season: 1982
In his first season with the Expos, Oliver rapped 204 hits, 43 doubles, 22 homers, 109 RBI, and won the batting title (.331). He led the league in hits, doubles, extra-base hits, total bases and multi-hit games.

Al Oliver was the first player to amass 200 hits and 100 RBI in a season in both the American and National leagues.

The Progressive Pirates
Baseball was still battling racial stereotypes in the 1970s. Many people believed that minorities were not suited to be pitchers, for example, because they lacked the intellect. This is the sad truth that still haunts the game today, despite all of the strides made by blacks and Latinos. One team ignored those prejudices, they were the Pittsburgh Pirates. By 1971, as many as half of their major league roster was black or Latino. On September 1, 1971, they fielded what is believed to be the first all-black lineup in the history of the league. Oliver played first base, joining second baseman Rennie Stennett, center fielder Gene Clines, right fielder Roberto Clemente, left fielder Willie Stargell, catcher Manny Sanguillen, third baseman Dave Cash, shortstop Jackie Hernandez and pitcher Dock Ellis in the starting lineup. Pittsburgh won the National League East division that season and went on to defeat the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series.

Albert (Jr.) Oliver was born on October 14, 1946, in Portsmouth, OH.

Batted:  Left
Threw:  Left

Primary Position:  OF

Primary Team:  PIT

College:  Kent

Major League Debut
September 23, 1968

Nine Other Players Who Debuted in 1968
Ted Simmons
Al Oliver
Hal McRae
Dusty Baker
Richie Hebner
Bobby Bonds
Rollie Fingers
Andy Messersmith
Freddie Patek

Similar Players
Garret Anderson

Hall of Fame Voting
Year Election Votes Pct
1991 BBWAA 19 4.3%

Post-Season Appearances
1970 National League Championship Series
1971 National League Championship Series
1971 World Series
1972 National League Championship Series
1974 National League Championship Series
1975 National League Championship Series
1985 American League Championship Series

Post-Season Notes
Oliver delivered two game-winning hits in the first four games of the 1985 ALCS against Kansas City. The Royals rallied to win the last three games. Oliver batted .375 for the series. Despite success for Toronto, Oliver hit only .228 in 28 post-season games, with 17 RBI and eight runs scored.

In Tiger Stadium on August 17, 1980, Oliver collected a double, triple and four homers in a doubleheader against the Tigers, establishing a league record for most total bases (21) in a twinbill.

On August 10, 1983, Oliver collected his 2,500th hit, off Mets' pitcher Carlos Diaz.

Batting Feats

  • May 23, 1979: 3 HR...

  • August 17, 1980: 3 HR...

Was third in NL Most Valuable Player voting in 1982... Oliver finished second to Ted Sizemore in the 1969 NL Rookie of the Year voting... Oliver's .319 career batting average with the Rangers is the highest in team history.

Hitting Streaks
23 games (1974)
21 games (1980)
21 games (1974)
18 games (1972)
17 games (1980)
17 games (1981)
16 games (1972)

June 13, 1964: Signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as an amateur free agent.

December 8, 1977: Traded as part of a 4-team trade by the Pittsburgh Pirates with Nelson Norman to the Texas Rangers. The Atlanta Braves sent Willie Montanez to the New York Mets. The Texas Rangers sent Adrian Devine, Tommy Boggs, and Eddie Miller to the Atlanta Braves. The Texas Rangers sent a player to be named later and Tom Grieve to the New York Mets. The Texas Rangers sent Bert Blyleven to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The New York Mets sent Jon Matlack to the Texas Rangers. The New York Mets sent John Milner to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Texas Rangers sent Ken Henderson (March 15, 1978) to the New York Mets to complete the trade.

March 31, 1982: Traded by the Texas Rangers to the Montreal Expos for Larry Parrish and Dave Hostetler.

February 27, 1984: Traded by the Montreal Expos to the San Francisco Giants for Fred Breining and Max Venable. The San Francisco Giants sent Andy McGaffigan (March 31, 1984) to the Montreal Expos to complete the trade.

August 20, 1984: Traded by the San Francisco Giants with a player to be named later to the Philadelphia Phillies for Kelly Downs and George Riley. The San Francisco Giants sent Renie Martin (August 30, 1984) to the Philadelphia Phillies to complete the trade.

February 4, 1985: Traded by the Philadelphia Phillies to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Pat Zachry.

July 9, 1985: Traded by the Los Angeles Dodgers to the Toronto Blue Jays for Len Matuszek.

November 12, 1985: Granted Free Agency.

After the Rangers acquired Mickey Rivers in 1979 and placed him in center field, shifting Oliver to left, Oliver demanded a trade. The Rangers smoothed over Oliver's feelings and he played two more seasons in Texas.

All-Star Selections
1972 NL
1975 NL
1976 NL
1980 AL
1981 AL
1982 NL
1983 NL

Learn More about Al Oliver
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