03/19/2008 3:35 PM ET
Gregg Olson elected to Orioles Hall of Fame
Long-time traveling secretary Phil Itzoe named winner of Herb Armstrong Award; Wild Bill Hagy to be initial honoree of Orioles Fan Award
Gregg Olson, the Orioles' all-time leader in saves and the first reliever ever to win the American League Rookie of the Year Award, has been elected to the Orioles Hall of Fame, it was announced today.
Olson, who spent 14 years in the Majors with nine different teams, had his greatest success as an Oriole after being club's first round draft pick in 1988. With a 90-plus fastball and a devastating curveball nicknamed "Uncle Charlie," he reached the Majors later that season and became the O's closer the next year, racking up a club-record 160 saves from 1989 through 1993. He will be formally inducted into the Hall of Fame in pre-game ceremonies on Saturday, Aug. 9, before the Orioles' 7:05 p.m. game against the Texas Rangers.
In addition to Olson, long-time traveling secretary Phil Itzoe, who has logged more seasons in that position than any person ever in the four Major team sports, will be presented that day with the Herb Armstrong Award, given to non-uniformed personnel who have made significant contributions to the ballclub and the game of baseball, and the late William "Wild Bill" Hagy will officially be honored as the first recipient of an award named after him and given to longtime dedicated fans who have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to the Orioles.
Olson won the AL Rookie of the Year Award in 1989, earning 27 saves in 33 opportunities while pitching to a 1.69 ERA in 64 games for the "Why Not" Orioles team that nearly won the AL East. He was the first relief pitcher to win the award. He was named to the 1990 American League All-Star team on the way to recording a then-club record 37 saves, the first of three straight seasons in which he saved more than 30 games. The Nebraska native and Auburn University alumnus was on his way to a fourth straight 30-save season when he suffered a torn ligament in his right elbow in August 1993. After undergoing surgery, the Orioles elected not to re-sign him.
In six seasons with the Orioles, Olson was 17-21 with 160 saves and a 2.26 ERA, holding opponents to a .220 batting average. His save total is 55 more than Tippy Martinez, another Orioles Hall of Famer who ranks second on the club's all-time list. He holds the club record with 41 consecutive scoreless innings pitched over 29 appearances from Aug. 4, 1989 to May 4, 1990. Olson also combined with three other pitchers - Bob Milacki, Mark Williamson and O's Hall of Famer Mike Flanagan - on a no-hitter on July 13, 1991 at Oakland, pitching a perfect ninth inning to finish the game.
Although Olson spent another eight seasons in the Majors with eight teams, he never duplicated his success with the Orioles, saving more than 14 games only once more, with 30 saves for the expansion Arizona Diamondbacks in 1998. He compiled a 40-39 record and 3.46 ERA in his career with the Orioles, Atlanta, Cleveland, Kansas City, Detroit, Houston, Minnesota, Arizona and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Olson retired after the 2001 season with a career total of 217 saves, which ranks 32nd on baseball's all-time list. He also ranks 40th all-time in games finished (447).
Itzoe, a native of York, PA, is in his 41st season in charge of the team's travel plans. He joined the Orioles in 1964 as an assistant to the public relations director, became traveling secretary in 1968, and has been in charge of the team's travel and hotel plans ever since, booking and traveling more than 1.3 million air miles during the regular season alone. In 1990, he was honored with the first Donald Davidson Memorial Award, given in honor of the former Braves and Astros executive to the top traveling secretary in the Majors.
Hagy, a lifelong Baltimorean and fan of the Orioles since 1954, was well known for leading "The Roar from 34" in his upper deck section at Memorial Stadium in the 1970s and '80s, sometimes coming down to the top of the dugout to lead the crowd in cheers by spelling out "O-R-I-O-L-E-S". He died suddenly last August at the age of 68, and the Orioles and Oriole Advocates announced the creation of the Wild Bill Hagy Award in his honor days later.
Olson, Itzoe and Hagy will be honored at a luncheon sponsored by the Oriole Advocates, founders of the Orioles Hall of Fame, on Friday, Aug. 8, in the Camden Yards Warehouse. Tickets for the induction ceremony and the Orioles-Rangers game on Aug. 9 are available by calling 1-888-848-BIRD.