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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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John Olerud (That's All)

Six years to the day that it was learned he was leaving the Mets to sign a week later with the Seattle Mariners, John Olerud has announced his retirement from baseball.

Baseball is diminished.

Baseball fans are diminished.

The Mets, long detached from him, are diminished.

We are all diminished.

John Olerud played all of three seasons for the New York Mets and yet ranks, according to Faith and Fear in Flushing, as the No. 20 Greatest Met of the First Forty Years. We reprint here what it says on his virtual plaque.

Catch the breeze and the winter chills in colors on the snowy linen land.

On December 20, 1996, the Mets traded Robert Person to the Toronto Blue Jays for John Olerud, allegedly on the downside of his career, supposedly too fragile of psyche for New York.

Look out on a summer’s day with eyes that know the darkness in my soul.

In three seasons that didn’t last nearly long enough, Oly batted .315, including the eternally untoppable .354 of 1998.

While almost every other Met froze down that pitiful stretch, John sizzled. Fourteen plate appearances, fourteen straight trips to first or beyond.

Spent virtually all of the late ’90s on base.

Caught everything everybody threw him or hit toward him. Started a triple play against the Giants in ’98 — got two assists and a putout.

Entered the final week of 1997 with 88 RBIs and finished with 102.

Hit for the cycle against Montreal earlier that September, a cycle that, like every other cycle, required a triple. It was the only triple he hit that entire season because John Olerud ran with two packs of freshly chewed Bazooka stuck to the bottom of each spike.

Weathered faces lined in pain are soothed beneath the artist’s loving hand.

His one Mets post-season went like this:

• .349

• First homer by a lefty off of Randy Johnson in two years

• Deep fly that Tony Womack couldn’t catch

• Homer off Smoltz

Then, when no hope was left in sight on that starry, starry night

• The perfectly placed bouncer between Ozzie Guillen and Bret Boone to win Game Four

• Homer off Greg Maddux to start Game Five, providing the entirety of the Mets’ offense for fourteen innings.

Colors changing hue, morning fields of amber grain.

In a game that is all but forgotten because both the protagonists and the antagonist went on to do so many more interesting things, John Olerud lifted the 1999 Mets to perhaps the most thrilling May victory in franchise history, driving home the tying and winning runs off a stubborn, faltering, previously infallible Curt Schilling in the ninth at Shea.

It was a sign of good things to come.

Swirling clouds in violet haze reflect in Vincent’s eyes of China blue.

Unlike, say, Kevin McReynolds, Olerud’s quietude actually enhanced his personality. His muteness along with his omnipresent hard hat were shown off as signatures in those hilarious Nike Subway Series stickball commercials. The other players swore by him.

Flaming flowers that brightly blaze.

Cataloguing all the good baseball John Olerud committed in three short seasons should have been enough to earn him at least five more as a Met.

They would not listen, they’re not list’ning still, perhaps they never will.

Instead, Steve Phillips turned his back on him. John didn’t go on the open market, though. He and his wife headed home for Seattle, where his parents and in-laws could regularly babysit the Oleruds’ infant son.

I could’ve told you, Oly. This team was never meant for one as beautiful as you.

10 comments to John Olerud (That’s All)

  • Anonymous

    Ya know…in three seasons, he actually managed to solidify himself as an all-time great Met. Ok…so we've never really had any hitters.
    But, what a stroke…smooth and delicious, with a creamy center. It's what Lord Louisville must have envisioned when he invented the baseball bat. It's what Sir Edward Lathe had in mind when he was doing his thing.
    And how many big hits can one person have in a single season? The line drive to chase Cede

  • Anonymous

    I always wanted to see him pitch. I remember when he came up (without a day in the minors), there was serious talk of making him a starting pitcher/position player.
    A less-noted, more-permanent departure: Met for a Minute Herb Moford died. Here's a local paper gathering memories of him, with kinda charming results. I like the idea that Moford might have been hanging around with Bill Graham, another Met for a Minute.
    I wonder if Lute Barnes and Greg Harts are sharing a beer right now.

  • Anonymous

    As a Red Sox fan, I passionately hated John Olerud when he was a Blue Jay. The Jays and Sox were at the top of the of the division in the late 80's and early 90's and their head-to-head games were usually important. Olerud always killed us. KILLED us. I called him Stick Figure, because he looked like one. Actually, I called him That Fucking Stick Figure.
    When he went to The Other League, I was pleased. When he became a Mariner, I was indifferent, as one is to Mariners.
    To say that I despised him again as a Yankee is to flog the obvious.
    Of course, as these things tend to do, my hatred came full circle when an aging That Fucking Stick Figure ended his career in a Red Sox uniform. Hate gradually turned to skepticism and then to warmth, with a few spikes of wild enthusiasm thrown in (most notably on the hot night of July 31,2005, when he soothed the Manny-deadline-trade buzz crackling around Fenway with a home run into the Twins' bullpen). He finished the year as Better than Kevin Millar, for which I will always be grateful.
    Goodbye, That Fucking Stick Figure.

  • Anonymous

    i remember reading a story (post-rocker) about how he would take the venerable 7 train “to work” for every home game. what a consummate great guy. cheers john, and thanks for the memories.

  • Anonymous

    I was there with Jace and Emily for that triple play in 1998! I feel so special. :P
    –Megan

  • Anonymous

    Brilliant, my friend.
    And of course, he is the source of one of the greatest Rickey Henderson stories ever — even if it did turn out not to be true.
    In case you haven't heard it, Olerud and Rickey were reunited in Seattle not long after their Mets days.
    One day Rickey walked up to Olerud and said. “You wear that batting helmet on the field, too.”
    Olerud said yes, he did.
    Rickey: “I played with a guy in New York who did that, too.”
    Olerud: “Yeah, Rickey, I know. It was me.”
    It was later divulged that John Franco made the story up. But darn, you just want it to be true.

  • Anonymous

    Indeed, I've noticed that in your Top 100 of the first 40 years list, Oly is the all-time greatest Met who never played in a World Series with the team.

  • Anonymous

    I didn't know that! I knew that Kingman is the highest ranking of the Hundred not to see postseason with the Mets but hadn't broken it down by World Series. Thanks for the insight.

  • Anonymous

    No problem.
    Now how do I get a Username?
    -Z

  • Anonymous

    Could ya ask me something easy like who'll be our 2B next year? I'm fairly sure that the holdup for you is probably the word “subscribe”. You probably see it in a button where you expect to see “register”. Our host, its first language is not the English. Hit subscribe when you're filling things out and it should process matters.
    Unless it's changed since that was the case. Sorry for the technological stupidity, both the host's and my own. Olerud was quite a player, though.