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Former Orioles Closer Gregg Olson Remembers 'Why Not?' Team 30 Years Later

August 21, 2019
The Orioles celebrated the 30th anniversary of the 1989 "Why Not?" season at Camden Yards Aug. 9, reuniting a collection of players who nearly won the American League East after losing 107 games the year before.

The city of Baltimore rallied around the group, which entered the final series of the regular season against the AL East-leading Toronto Blue Jays one game back. The Orioles needed two wins to force a one-game playoff or a sweep to win the pennant. 

Toronto won the first two games of the series to clinch the division, ending the magical run by the "Comeback Kids." Still, the city honored the team with a parade when they arrived home.

"It was bizarre but really well attended," said Gregg Olson, the team's closer, on The Ross Grimsley Show Aug. 13. "The team was beloved. I don't know if it was for the effort, knowing that we had no business in doing what we were doing. None of us cared or knew any better."

The team had a mix of veteran players -- like Cal Ripken Jr., Mickey Tettleton and Larry Sheets -- and younger players. Several of the squad's young players later became All-Stars, such as pitchers Olson and Curt Schilling and outfielders Steve Finley and Brady Anderson.

The team had a deep connection with the fanbase who appreciated how hard they played.

"I think it was more special being at Memorial Stadium because it was the same group of fans that had been supporting the team for decades and everybody knew everybody," said Olson, who saved 27 games with a 1.69 ERA en route to the 1989 AL Rookie of the Year award. "I could walk out to the parking lot and I probably knew about 35 of the fans just by face and name."

Olson hadn't seen some of his teammates, like Craig Worthington and Pete Harnisch, in 30 years before reuniting Aug. 9.

Worthington, a rookie third baseman in 1989, played 145 games and finished with 70 RBIs, second only to Ripken. Harnisch was a right-hander who had 70 strikeouts on an inexperienced pitching staff led by lefty Jeff Ballard and righty Bob Milacki.

Olson compared the reunion to a high school class after graduation.

"You always have a group of people from high school that disappear off the face of the earth after they graduate," Olson said. "It was a lot of fun to catch up with those guys. It was a great time."

For more from Olson, listen to the full interview here:

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox