Prior to the 1997 season the Mets pulled off one of the greatest trades in franchise history when they sent pitcher Robert Person to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for first baseman John Olerud. Though Olerud was a solid hitting first baseman he never developed into the power hitter the Blue Jays were hoping for and became expendable with the emergence of Carlos Delgado who was more of a power threat.
The Mets were more than happy to take John Olerud off the Blue Jays hands and Met fans were glad they did. Olerud quickly became a fan favorite due to his quiet demeanor and steady bat while also anchoring the Mets infield with solid defense.
In 1997, his first season in New York, Olerud hit .294 with 22 home runs and a team best 102 RBIs. He also became the seventh player in franchise history to hit for the cycle when he accomplished the feat on September 11.
In 1998 Olerud set the Mets single season record with a .354 batting average as well as with a .447 on-base percentage. Also for the second straight season Olerud led the Mets in RBIs, this time with 93.
In 1999 John Olerud hit .298 with 19 home runs and 96 RBIs as the Mets reached the postseason for the first time since 1988. A feat that happened thanks in large part to a clutch home run by Olerud during the stretch run. On September 29 with the Mets in the midst of a seven game losing streak and on the verge of falling out of the race for the National League Wild Card, John Olerud saved the Met season by hitting a grand slam off Greg Maddux in the bottom of the 4th inning. It was the Mets seventh consecutive hit of the inning and broke the game open. The Mets went on to win the game 9-2 and three of their next four games to force a one game playoff with the Cincinnati Reds. The Mets won the playoff game 5-0 to take the National League Wild Card.
In 1999 John Olerud also anchored an infield many considered to be the best of all-time. Olerud was joined by 2B Edgardo Alfonzo, SS Rey Ordonez and 3B Robin Ventura. The quartet committed just 27 errors during the entire season.
In the postseason Olerud homered off Randy Johnson of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first game of the NLDS. He would drive in six runs and hit .438 as the Mets won the series in four games to advance to the NLCS.
In the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves he hit another two home runs and once again drove in six runs. He also got the game winning hit in game four, the Mets first win of the series. Unfortunately, the Mets lost the series in six games. In ten postseason games Olerud hit .348 with three home runs and twelve RBIs.
Unfortunately for the Mets 1999 would be Olerud’s last season in New York. In order to be closer to his family he decided to sign with the Seattle Mariners as a free agent.
In his three seasons with the Mets Olerud hit .315 with 63 home runs and 291 RBIs.
While with the Mets Olerud wore number 5.
John Olerud also played for the following teams:
Toronto Blue Jays – 1989-1996
Seattle Mariners – 2000-2004
New York Yankees – 2004
Boston Red Sox – 2005