Award named for former Auburn great

AUBURN – College baseball’s breakout player of the year will, starting at the end of this season, win an award named for all-time Auburn great pitcher Gregg Olson.

Greg Olson was an All-American in 1987 and 1988

The award will be given annual by Baseball Lineup to a top amateur player who elevates his game to an elite level throughout the season.

Olson lettered at Auburn from 1986-88 and is the school’s only two-time All-America selection. As a freshman he was 7-3 with a 5.72 ERA in 19 appearances (14 starts). Hal Baird, his coach, moved him to the bullpen his sophomore season and he became one of the top closers in college baseball history.

He was 11-1 with 10 saves and a 1.26 ERA in 1987 and 8-3 with 10 saves and a 2.00 ERA in 1988. His 20 career saves ranks fourth in Auburn history and his 271 career strikeouts rank sixth. His career winning percentage of 78.1 ranks fifth.

Olson was inducted into Auburn's first Wall of Fame in 2010 along with Bo Jackson, Frank Thomas and Tim Hudson.

"I was very pleased to hear that an annual college baseball award is to be named for Gregg Olson,” Baird said. “Gregg pioneered the position of late-inning closer at a time when no one put their most talented pitcher in the bullpen. Not only was he the first, but it is arguable that he remains the best in the annals of college baseball. He was a two-time first-team All-American, which was unprecedented for a closer, and he was the highest first-round draft pick ever for a college reliever. He was a totally dominant force who literally changed the strategies of our opponents due to his ability to shorten the game.

“In short, Gregg changed the college game forever and the most appropriate accolade given him, in my opinion, was in 2000 when Baseball America named him the college closer of the century, which in effect means the greatest college closer of all time. True praise indeed.”

Olson was chosen No. 4 in the 1988 major league draft by the Baltimore Orioles and remains the highest draft pick in Auburn history. He won the 1989 American League Rookie of the Year Award and was named to the All-Star team in just his second season in the major leagues. In a 14-year career as a reliever, Olson compiled 217 saves with a 40-39 record, 588 strike outs and a 3.46 ERA in 672 innings.

The Olson Award has been developed to honor college baseball’s success stories and showcase players like Olson who have raised the level of their game through hard work, strength of mind and determination. Eligible players will be those who are omitted from major publication’s preseason All-American prognostications; however by the end of the season their on-the-field performance will demonstrated that they are among the top amateur baseball players in the nation.

The winner of the 2013 Gregg Olson Award will be named in Omaha, Neb., during the College World Series. A Watch List is scheduled to be released May 20. At the conclusion of the regular season a selection of five finalists will be made by an independent panel.

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