Bob Oliver is the left fielder for our “Hangin’ at the Bat Rack” team. This is Bob’s 2nd card, as he appeared on one of the 4 Royals Rookie Stars cards in the 1969 set. He looks deep in thought, probably choosing a weapon to go yard on a sub-par Pilots' pitcher!
Bob was signed by the Pirates in 1963, and played 5 seasons in their farm system, mostly as a first baseman, but he also played a significant amout in the
outfield, and at 3rd base and 2nd base. His major-league debut came with 3 games during a September 1965 call-up with the Pirates.
After the 1967 season, he
was traded to the Twins for veteran reliever Ron Kline.
After a full season with Minnesota’s triple-A team in Denver (playing almost exclusively as an outfielder), Oliver was selected by the Kansas City Royals in
the October 1968 expansion draft.
Bob began the 1969 season with the expansion Royals. He was the starting right fielder for the first 2 games, then was out of the lineup for 2 weeks –
perhaps a short trip to the minors. He also missed a week or so in August, but otherwise was a regular for the ’69 team. He started 44 games in center, 41
games in right (he and Pat Kelly made most of the starts in both center and right). Bob also started a half-dozen games each at 1B, 3B and left field.
The following season, he moved to the infield. After starting 46 of the first 58 games at 3rd base, on June 16th Oliver moved across the diamond and started
all but 3 games at 1st base for the remainder of the season. Bob hit a career-high 27 homers in 1970.
In 1971, he started 39 of the first 50 games at 1st base, but made only 5 starts there for the rest of the season, Instead, he was moved out to right field,
which he shared with Joe Keough during the second half of the season.
Bob was the team’s right fielder for the first 16 games of 1972, then was traded to the Angels on May 5th for pitcher Tom Murphy. Oliver started 124 games at
1st base for the Angels that season, replacing 3-year regular Jim Spencer. This was the 2nd and last time he reached the 20-homer plateau.
Oliver had a full workload in 1973 (544 at-bats), but he split his time between 1B, 3B, and RF, but was not the primary fielder at any position.
In 1974 he
was a part-time 1st and 3rd baseman, sharing 3rd base with Paul Schaal and Dave Chalk, and 1st base with John Doherty. Bob didn’t start more than 45 games
at either position. In mid-September he was traded to the Orioles for pitcher Mickey Scott.
He was purchased by the Yankees after the ’74 season, and only played 18 games for them prior to his July 1975 release, ending his major-league career.
Bob was on the sidelines for the rest of 1975, then spent the 1976-78 seasons in the Phillies’, Pirates’, and White Sox’ organizations. Oliver also played in Mexico during 1978 and 1979.
RIP - Mike de la Hoz
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