Interview Date: June 26, 2014
Few people even remember Gregg Olson played for the Houston Astros. His time with the team was so short that, as of the writing of this article, there are no known pictures of him in an Astros uniform. Even the man himself does not know of one. “That is a picture I would love to have as well. Funny story, I was back playing against the Astros in 1998 and someone asked me to sign a Gregg Olson Astros bat. I never got one of those myself!”
Olson’s career started off with an amazing run in which he won Rookie of the Year and was one of four pitchers to throw a combined no-hitter. The Orioles knew they struck gold when they drafted him in the first round, but Olson himself was not as confident. “I didn’t realize that I was a top talent until I made a splash in the big leagues. Until you are in a Major League stadium, there are always players better than you. I was always chasing the best in the world tag.”
When he first appeared, his arm was unbeatable. While his elbow would eventually give out on him, he was considered the best closer in baseball for many years. “It’s funny because where I live no one knows my history. When I tell them that I was a Rookie of the Year, I get some different looks. Being picked as Rookie of the Year was a huge honor. As far as being a part of baseball history, isn’t that what we all want?”
In his only season with the Astros, he put on three different uniforms. He started with the Cardinals but was traded early to the Tigers. The Astros were in the playoff hunt and wanted a closer, so they grabbed Olson just before the trade deadline. He showed some flashes of brilliance but it was not enough to get the Astros into the playoffs. “I never really got the shot that I thought I was traded to be. I thought I was coming in to help the back end of the bullpen. I didn’t get many of those chances until we were eliminated. I didn’t think it was something I did, sometimes you just don’t get the shot you need.”
In 2001, Olson finally hung up his cleats, bringing a close to a solid career that left his name in baseball record books twice. Olson was not done yet. He has since written a book, We Got to Play Baseball, which is a great collection of personal reflections from sixty major league players. Currently, Olson is president of Toolshed USA which, at the time of the interview, sold sheds to MLB. “We actually finally got the Astros to buy sheds this year. We now sell to 26 MLB teams.” Since this interview was conducted, they seem to have expanded into sportswear.