Al Oliver: A Hall Of Famer On And Off The Field

By Bill Neri-Amadeo
Updated: September 18, 2006

NOTE: Back in May, BASN contributor Bill Neri-Amedeo made a case for Al Oliver to be considered for the Baseball Hall of Fame. Today Bill makes his case again, but this story speaks of what the former All-Star and batting champion is now accomplishing off the field in regards to the youth and his immediate community.

LANSING, Mi. — When the name Al Oliver comes to mind, most people, who have heard of the underrated star, think of one of the greatest hitters the game of baseball has ever seen.

If you look up his statistics, you can see that Al Oliver had a lifetime batting average of .303 and compiled 2,743 hits during his illustrious career.

If one is to dig deeper into his career accomplishments, they will find that during his playing career, only Pete Rose and Rod Carew had more hits. With these facts alone, It’s hard to imagine why Al Oliver is not in the Hall of Fame.

This is what you may know: statistics tell a story. However, there is a whole other side to Al Oliver that the world needs to know. The facts not only show Al Oliver should be a Hall of Fame player, in the game of life, he is also a Hall of Fame person.

When Oliver’s career ended, he began a career that included public speaking engagements and remained around the game of baseball. While this may have been enough for the average person, Al Oliver had a greater calling.

1990 would be an incredible year in the life of Al Oliver. That year, Oliver would truly begin to affect the lives of others. It was in 1990 that Oliver moved back to his hometown of Portsmouth, Ohio.

He decided he wanted to make a difference to the members of the community. In was in that year he started the Al Oliver Foundation. The purpose of the foundation was to help the youth, elderly and veterans through a variety of activities.

These activities focus of athletics, education and recreational activities. Oliver has stated that the foundation was made to help people with their self-esteem.

Thus far, the foundation has touched the lives of over 1500 people. These people have had their lives changed for the better by taking advantage of the activities the foundation has to offer.

While the accomplishments of the foundation have had a tremendous effect of the Ohio community, things are looking even more positive. Currently, the foundation is looking at various properties which would allow the Al Oliver Foundation to expand and help even more people.

When asked about the future of the foundation, Oliver said, “We’re looking to provide better unity in homes, schools, churches, cities, states and countries”.

“We need to be a unified front. We want people from all walks of life to come and feel positive about themselves and have fun at the same time”.

The Al Oliver Foundation is making a difference. Whether dealing with youth peer pressure issues or the problems of the elderly and veterans, the foundation offers a unique outlet unlike anywhere else.

While the Oliver Foundation is making a difference in people’s lives, Al Oliver’s personal vision was far from done. He still wanted to make a difference in the lives of others.

In 1997, Al Oliver became an ordained Deacon at the Beulah Baptist Church. This was the church Oliver attended as a youth. His involvement in the church continues to grow as he became Chairman of the Deacon Board and eventually a moderator.

In his role as moderator, Oliver played a role in reshaping the church which went through trying times after the death of their pastor in 1998.

The Beulah Baptist Church has overcome adversity and is making a major difference in the lives of the Ohio community. One of the major reasons for this is the kind works of Al Oliver.

When one views Al Oliver, they see a true role model. He is a man who was not only an exceptional athlete, he is an exceptional person. Al Oliver exemplifies everything the Baseball Hall of Fame could ever hope to showcase.

A star on the field and difference maker of off the diamond. The time has come to place Al Oliver with his rightful place by being enshrined in the prestigious Baseball Hall of Fame.

NOTE: To access Bill’s previous story on Al Oliver, please access BASN’s archives or this link