All-Time Indians: Steve Olin

Name: Steven Robert Olin Position: Closer
Tribe Time: 1989-1992 Number: 31
  DOB: 10/04/1965
Best Season (1992) 8 5 0.615 2.35 72 29 36 88.1 80 23 8 27 47 1.21 .232
Career 16 19 0.457 3.10 195 48 62 273.0 272 94 14 90 173 1.33 .249

The Indians have had many tragedies in their history, but that of Steve Olin’s may have been the worst. The Indians didn’t go to the World Series between 1954 and 1995, but that is put into perspective when considering cases like this. Even Ray Chapman, who died from being struck in the head with a pitch at least got to live a great, albeit short, life, playing nine seasons, getting married and having a child before the fateful at bat against Carl Mays. Steve Olin was drafted in the 16th round of 1987 and made his debut just two seasons later, a feat made easier by him being a relief pitcher. As the closer in Rookie level Burlingham, ‘A’ Waterloo, ‘A’ Kinston and AAA Colorado Spings from 1987 through 1989, Olin racked up 54 saves and looked like the heir for Doug Jones. Jones had been the Indians primary closer since 1987, but the All-Star closer’s contract ran out at the end of the 1991 season, giving Olin the perfect amount of time to work himself slowly into the role.

Olin was called up in July of 1989, but immediately became one of the most used relievers out of the bullpen, with only Jones, Jesse Orosco and Keith Atherton being used more often by the end of the year. For his part, Olin deserved the responsibility as he posted a 3.75 ERA in 36 innings, striking out 24. This effort earned him a spot on the Opening Day roster in 1989 and he improved upon his previous effort, something he would do every year in his career. Olin threw in another 50 games, posting an ERA of 3.41, striking out 65 in 92.1 innings. This year, Olin was the Indians second best reliever, behind only Jones, who saved 43 of 51 in his last full season as the Indians closer. Looking on towards the future, Olin took over the role on July 19th, despite starting the year with a 4.44 ERA. After being made closer, he took off and posted a 2.35 ERA through 31 games, saving 17 of 22 chances.

The Indians were looking to the future with great additions just beginning their careers including Charles Nagy, Albert Belle, Carlos Baerga and Sandy Alomar, Jr and Olin looked like he would be a big part of the upcoming Indians success. Steve Olin turned 26 in 1992 and pitched the most incredible season of his career. He set career highs in games, saves, wins and ERA as he threw one of the best seasons by any Indians reliever in history. The Indians showed potential, but weren’t the team they would become a few seasons later and Olin saved 46 of the Indians 133 total wins. In just four seasons, Olin became on of the greatest closers in Indians history as he could be considered the first Indians closer in the contemporary manner (he generally pitched just one inning at a time and primarily in save situations).

The Indians had their Spring Training in Winter Haven, Florida for the first time after 45 years in Tucson, Arizona. Enjoying their proximity near the ocean, two incoming free agents, Tim Crews and Bobby Ojeda took a boat ride along with Olin during during some time off. Crews was driving the boat and was legally drunk when he crashed into a pier, injuring Ojeda and killing both himself and Steve Olin. It was the first time an active baseball player had died since 1974 and it ended two promising baseball careers in a very avoidable tragedy.

Joseph Coblitz

About Joseph Coblitz

Joseph is the primary writer and editor of and has been since its inception in 2011. He also writes for The Outside Corner and the Comeback and hosts the Tribe Time Now podcast. He is a graduate of the University of Akron and currently resides in Goodyear, Arizona the Spring Training home of the Cleveland Indians. Follow on twitter @BurningRiverBB