Archive for Monday, January 1, 2007

Kansas City Royal-turned-Angel Bob Oliver

January 1, 2007

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It was a lot tougher following your favorite athlete in 1972 compared to today.

So when the Kansas City Royals dealt right fielder/first baseman Bob Oliver to the California Angels for pitcher Tom Murphy, it presented a problem.

There was, of course, no Internet in '72 on which to follow the games in progress. Even the next morning, learning Oliver's results took some work.

Because of the West Coast starting times, Angels box scores rarely made the morning papers. So there were plenty of calls to the sports desk to find out how Bob fared the night before.

Oliver had such a big year in 1970 (27 home runs, 99 RBIs) that it took 30 minutes to reach him on autograph day. At the next year's autograph day, the line was much smaller, and so were his batting numbers. Good thing there was no sports-talk radio then. He might have been run out of town.

One of my favorite Oliver moments came in 1971, in the middle of a disappointing season. Bob belted a three-run home run against Oakland phenom Vida Blue and tagged second base a little harder than usual ... perhaps a sign of relief? Oliver had been in a long slump before that clout.

In 1969, he became the first Royal to collect six hits in a game, a feat since duplicated by Kevin Seitzer and Joe Randa.

Then in 1972, it was off to Anaheim, Calif., to play for the Angels, like his son, Darren Oliver, is now. Darren has agreed to a one-year contract to pitch for the Angels next season.

Oh, well. At least it will be easier to follow Darren's exploits than those of his dad.

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