In the latest edition of Card Back Q&A, former Orioles All-Star Gregg Olson talks religious analogies and 1991 Donruss, spring training haircuts, his curve ball and the hazards of being a closer.
Tony Reid–You were a Donruss Diamond King, which is a big deal. 1991, it stated ‘You can’t get to heaven without a strong bullpen.’ They called you a guardian angel. What are your thoughts when you hear that quote?
Gregg Olson-That’s borderline cringe worthy, hearing that quote thirty years later. It’s funny nowadays you sit there and watch a game and there are nine or ten guys in a bullpen. I look at my son and tell him that when I came up we have five guys in the bullpen. He couldn’t believe it. It goes more toward the starting staff actually going seven innings and us having to pick up two innings a night. It’s a different world now, these guys are specialized. I guess I can’t say that because I came out of college as a reliever. That was kind of me.
TR–Your 1991 Score card states that you have a ‘paralyzing’ curve ball. What are your thoughts on that comment?
GO-I appreciate that. It fit when I caught guys by surprise and they weren’t really on that pitch. You mentioned the Studio card I use as my profile picture on Twitter, you need to pull up the Studio card and see the picture they used the next year. I had a beard and my head was shaved. I was told I looked like a serial killer.
They story behind that was, in Spring Training there isn’t a whole lot to do in down time. Billy Ripken and I were going to cut each other’s hair. He made the mistake of starting out on the one, the lowest setting. So the few remnants of hair I had left were shaved. Right when he did it he was like ‘Oh, crap. You can cut my hair next.’ That explains the shaved head look that I never had again.
TR–In 1992 Score you were a part of the 90’s Impact Players subset. They called you the best young closer in the game. Do you remember feeling like the best young closer in the sport?
GO– Yeah, I guess so. There was Bobby Thigpen and Jeff Montgomery, who was a couple years older, so he probably wasn’t considered as young at the time. We had a good crew of closers that came in to the league starting in 1988 and 1989. It was an honor. Other than Jeff Montgomery, we all blew out within a year or two. It was a great four or five years of pitching and then, down to a man, we all blew out again, with the exception of Montgomery. Dibble blew out. Thigpen blew out. Charlton blew out. Man, it’s a hazardous job.