This is the real Greg Olson. Sure, the other guy, the one with the double Gs, provided far more value over the course of his career than the Braves catcher. The other Olson, however, was little more than a blip in Braves history. Greg Olson was the catcher when the Braves rose from last to first. Sure, I look back at his career through rose-colored and remember him as being better than he was. (I was just looking at his numbers and I could have swore he was a near .300 hitter once. He was not.)
Here’s what Greg Olson was though: he was the guy who caught Tom Glavine and John Smoltz and Steve Avery throughout the 1991 and 1992 seasons. He was the guy who always had something funny to say in the postgame scrum. He was the guy who helped provide Braves fans with two iconic moments.
One was not a great moment for Olson, but it did much to show his spirit and why he was beloved in Atlanta. It was September 18, 1992 and the Braves were battling the Astros. With Ken Caminiti on third, Pete Incaviglia lofted a fly ball to right. David Justice camped under the ball and came up firing for the plate. Caminiti dug in and rumbled to the plate like a fullback finding a hole in the line and deciding to take out the safety. The ball arrived just before Caminiti and he took out Olson with a brutal hit. Olson’s right leg bended in a most gruesome fashion. The crowd was nearly silent as they loaded the catcher onto the cart to get him off the field. As the cart left the field, Olson gave the chop to the crowd to let them know he was all right. If you were watching, you’d never forget that site.
Of course, Olson’s most iconic moment came at the end of Game 7 in 1992 NLCS. It wasn’t a baseball play. The biggest play of Olson’s career was an 8th inning double to give the Braves the one and only run they would need in Game 6. This time, he was simply the guy behind the plate when the Braves recorded the final out in Game 7. Olson ran out to the mound and jumped into the arms of John Smoltz. It’s another moment none of us will ever forget.
Thank you Greg Olson.