18. John Olerud (2000-2004)
John Olerud is known for wearing a “hard hat” while playing his field position of first base, much like the base coaches wear now. He did so because he suffered a brain aneurysm in college.
He was a stellar college player for the Washington State Cougars. A local guy from Bellevue, he was an All-Conference player in the PAC-10 and hit 23 home runs his sophomore year.
Olerud was drafted in the third round in 1989 by the Toronto Blue Jays. Before coming to Seattle, he played 11 solid seasons in Toronto and also with the New York Mets.
By the time he was a Mariner, he had 172 career home runs and almost 1,500 hits. Then he finally got to come home.
Olerud had a solid first season in Seattle, driving in 103 runs while batting .285. He was a big part of the Mariners’ 2001 historic run to 116 wins.
That year was his second All-Star appearance. He hit .302 with 21 home runs, 95 RBI and 32 doubles with a .401 on-base percentage.
Olerud had one triple that year. He made that one triple count, as he hit for the cycle against the San Diego Padres on June 16, 2001.
That moment is special to me because I was there as a nine-year old with my dad as a young Padres fan, sitting down the first base line, a few levels up. His home run to complete the cycle punched a hole in a banner on the second deck of the stadium.
Olerud went on to play until 2004 in Seattle. He posted a 17 WAR as a Mariner, 12th in franchise history among position players. He is third in franchise history in on-base percentage (.388) and sixth in walks (418).