Robert Lee Oliver (February 8, 1943 – April 19, 2020) was an American professional baseball first baseman and outfielder, who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Pittsburgh Pirates (1965), Kansas City Royals (1969–72), California Angels (1972–74), Baltimore Orioles (1974), and New York Yankees (1975). He batted and threw right-handed.
|First baseman / Outfielder / Third baseman|
|Born: February 8, 1943|
|Died: April 19, 2020 (aged 77)|
Rio Linda, California
|September 10, 1965, for the Pittsburgh Pirates|
|Last MLB appearance|
|July 3, 1975, for the New York Yankees|
|Runs batted in||419|
Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, Oliver lettered in baseball and basketball at Highlands High School in North Highlands, California, a suburb of Sacramento. After graduating in 1961, he played college baseball at American River College, where he was heavily scouted. Signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates before the 1963 season, Oliver played in the Pirates' farm system for four seasons, with a late call-up in 1965, during which he made his major league debut. Oliver was traded to the Minnesota Twins and spent two more seasons in Minor League Baseball (MiLB).
Oliver made the big leagues for good in 1969, having been selected by the Kansas City Royals in the previous October's expansion draft. Playing on a young team that included fellow rookies Pat Kelly and Lou Piniella — the eventual American League (AL) Rookie of the Year — Oliver batted .254, with 13 home runs, and 43 runs batted in (RBI), in 118 games played. That year, he achieved two firsts in Royals history: 1) He was the first Royal to collect six hits in a nine-inning game (only two other Royals, Kevin Seitzer in 1987 and Joe Randa in 2004, have since accomplished this feat), with a 6-for-6 performance in a May 4 victory over the California Angels; and 2) He hit the Royals' first-ever grand slam, the shot coming off Jim Bouton in the first game of a July 4 doubleheader against the American League's other 1969 expansion team, the Seattle Pilots.
1970 was a breakout year for Oliver; he established career highs in home runs (27),RBI (99), and runs scored (83). Oliver enjoyed two more solid seasons: 1972 (during which he was traded to the California Angels), batting .269, with 20 home runs, and 76 RBI; and 1973, batting .265, with 18 home runs, and 89 RBI, while splitting his time as a utility player. The Baltimore Orioles acquired him for the 1974 stretch drive; Oliver appeared in nine games for the team. His contract was purchased by the New York Yankees from the Orioles on December 1, 1974, but he only saw limited duty in 1975. During his career, Oliver batted .256, with 94 home runs, and 419 RBI, in 847 games played.
Other interests and deathEdit
Oliver managed the Sacramento Steelheads, in 1999. He has also worked at two baseball schools in Sacramento County: operating his own Baseball Academy in Sacramento, as well as working as a hitting instructor at Dusty Baker's Baseball Camp in Rancho Cordova.
Oliver's son Darren also played in MLB, from 1993–2013. Both father and son are former teammates of Nolan Ryan: Bob from 1972 to 1974, and Darren as a rookie with the Texas Rangers in 1993 (Ryan's final major league season).
- "Yankees Obtain Oliver From Orioles for Cash," United Press International (UPI), Sunday, December 1, 1974. Retrieved October 26, 2020
- Allen, Maury (August 1974). "Ballplayer Cop Chases Teen-age Drug Addicts". Sports Today.
- Distel, Dave (February 12, 1974). "Bob Oliver Swaps Uniforms: Angel Player Is Also a Cop". Los Angeles Times. p. 37, 43.
- "Dusty Baker Baseball Camp | Coaches/Instructors". dustybakerbaseballcamp.com. Dusty Baker Baseball Camp. Archived from the original on March 5, 2011. Retrieved December 31, 2019.
- Morris, Adam J. (April 21, 2020). "Former major leaguer Bob Oliver has passed away". lonestarball.com. SB Nation. Retrieved April 21, 2020.
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or Baseball-Reference (Minors), or Retrosheet
- Bob Oliver at SABR (Baseball BioProject)
- Bob Oliver at Pura Pelota (Venezuelan Professional Baseball League)
- Bob Oliver at Find a Grave
- Bob Oliver Baseball Academy at the Wayback Machine (archived April 25, 2011)