|Team||Boston Red Sox|
|Years of Experience||16 years|
|Height||6 ft 5 in|
|College||Washington State University|
|Place of Birth||Seattle, Washington|
|Selection||3rd round, 1989 amateur draft|
|Drafted by||Toronto Blue Jays|
|Major League Debut||September 3, 1989|
John Garrett Olerud (born August 5, 1968 in Seattle, Washington) is an American first baseman in Major League Baseball who, as of 2005, is playing for the Boston Red Sox. Previously, Olerud played with the Toronto Blue Jays (1989-96), New York Mets (1997-99), Seattle Mariners (2000-2004) and New York Yankees (2004).
With one of the smoothest swings in the game, Olerud is strictly a line drive hitter to all parts of the field. He is patient at the plate, usually drawing 90-100 walks a season. Despite being one of the slowest players in MLB, Olerud is a very intelligent base runner. A three-time Gold Glove winner, he is a solid first baseman with a good throwing arm and an average range.
Well known for not having played a game in the minor leagues until his late thirties, Olerud jumped directly to the majors after a stellar career at Washington State University where he was a pitcher. He is known for wearing a batting helmet in the field as a precaution since he suffered a brain aneurysm while playing in college.
Olerud broke into MLB with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1989. He was platooned by Jays' manager Cito Gaston for the first few years of his career, until his breakout season in 1993, when he led the American League in average (.363), times on base (321), on-base percentage (.473), OPS (1.072), and doubles (54, also a career high), while posting career highs in home runs (24), RBI (107), runs (109), and hits (200).
A two-time All-Star, Olerud was a member of two World Series champion teams with the Blue Jays (1992-93). He could not duplicate his success in the next three years, and was traded to the New York Mets in December 1996.
With the Mets, Olerud had three successful seasons. In 1997 he hit .294 with 22 home runs and a new career-high 128 RBI. He finished second in the batting race with .354 in 1998 (behind .363 of Larry Walker). And in 1999, he hit .298 with 96 RBI and 125 walks to help his team to the NL championship series before losing to Atlanta in six games.
Following the 1999 season, Olerud decided to sign with the Seattle Mariners to be near his family. He was a big part of the Mariners' 116-46 2001 season, hitting .302 with 103 RBI and a .392 on-base percentage. In 2000 he amassed 103 RBI, hitting .302 with 21 home runs and 95 RBI. He recorded .300 batting average, 22 home runs, and 102 RBI in 2002.
After being released by the Mariners in the middle of the 2004 season, Olerud was signed by the New York Yankees to fill a void left at first base left by the injured Jason Giambi. His final game with the Yankees was Game 3 of the AL championship series when he was forced to leave due to an injured foot. Olerud was due to pinch hit in game seven of the AL championship series, but the last out was made while he was in the on deck circle.
On May 1, 2005, the Boston Red Sox and Olerud agreed to terms on a minor league contract. He had been recovering from surgery in November 2004 to repair torn ligaments in his left foot. Initially, Olerud reported to the club's spring training complex in Fort Myers, Florida. He was added to Boston 25-man roster on May 27. He now platoons the first base job with Kevin Millar.
- Twice All-Star (1993, 2001)
- 3-time Gold Glove Award (2000, 2002-03)
- Hutch Award (1993)
- Finished third in the AL MVP vote (1993)
- Led American League in batting average (1993)
- Led AL in doubles (1993)
- Led AL in times on base (1993)
- Led AL in on-base percentage (1993)
- Led AL in OPS (1993)
- Led National League in games played (1999, 162)
- Twice hit for the cycle (1997, 2001)
- In 13-postseason Series, he is a .278 hitter with nine home runs and 34 RBI in 63 games
- On September 29, 1993, Olerud tied the American League record for intentional walks in a season with 33. Ted Williams set the mark in 1957.
- Olerud finally played his first minor league game on May 23, 2005, when the 37-year-old, 17-year MLB veteran played first base for the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox. His first minors hit was a two-run home run. Olerud finished his three-game rehab assignment hitting .300 (3-for-10).
- Olerud is the cousin of former infielder Dale Sveum. Currently, Sveum is also a member of the Red Sox; he serves as their third base coach.
- Olerud and his wife have a daughter, born in 2000 with a rare chromosome disorder. Seeing an opportunity to create awareness for special needs children and their parents, in 2003 the Oleruds founded the Jordan Fund.