He was a legend during his playing days.
Put him on the mound and he would dominate. Let him into the batter's box and you didn't have to worry about the outcome. John Olerud got it done.
On Saturday, Washington State added another chapter in Olerud's historic career, retiring his No. 18 jersey on a sunny late morning at Bailey-Brayton Field in Pullman, Wash.
"Good to be back here for such a fun celebration, such an honorable celebration for John, for Cougar baseball," said Randy Snyder, Olerud's former catcher. "It's great to see guys of John's character and his ability and his stature, come back and represent the program so well. What he did in the big leagues and how he's just been a great community figure. It's good to have him as a former teammate and just a Cougar."
It was a quick and simple ceremony, fitting for a player known as being quiet. Olerud walked in from the gate along the first-base line and posed with his family behind home plate with a framed jersey, while his No. 18 was unveiled on the outfield wall. Athletic director Bill Moos addressed a close-to-capacity crowd and Olerud then delivered the ceremonial first pitch to his former catcher, Randy Snyder.
Olerud played perhaps the greatest season of collegiate baseball in 1988 with the Cougars. As a two-way player, Olerud posted a perfect 15-0 record on the mound and hit .464 at the plate. For his efforts, he was named the National Player of the Year.
The left-hander still holds a plethora of Washington State records, including batting average (.464), hits (108), RBI (tied, 81), total bases (204), slugging percentage (.876), on-base percentage (.556), OPS (1.432), wins (15) and innings pitched (122 2/3).
Olerud went on to play 17 MLB season, winning back-to-back World Series with the Blue Jays.
"On the field he was steely," Snyder said. "He just seemed like he had ice in his veins without being the guy that had that bravado exterior. He was the kind of guy that would look so calm, so poised in any situation. Whether he was on the mound with guys on second and third and he had to get that out. Or whether there was guys on second and third, he had to drive them in, it never seemed to matter, it looked like he was taking BP or warming up in the bullpen."