February 8, 1943 |
|September 10, 1965, for the Pittsburgh Pirates|
|Last MLB appearance|
|July 3, 1975, for the New York Yankees|
|Runs batted in||419|
Robert Lee Oliver (born February 8, 1943) is a former first baseman and outfielder in Major League Baseball who played for the Pittsburgh Pirates (1965), Kansas City Royals (1969–72), California Angels (1972–74), Baltimore Orioles (1974) and New York Yankees (1975). He batted and threw right-handed.
Oliver lettered in baseball and basketball at Highlands High School in North Highlands, California, a suburb of Sacramento. After graduating in 1961, Oliver played baseball at American River College where he was heavily scouted. Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates before the 1963 season, Oliver played in the Pirates' farm system for four seasons (with a late call-up in 1965, during which he made his major league debut). He was traded to the Minnesota Twins and spent two more seasons in the minor leagues.
Oliver made the majors for good in 1969, having been selected by the Kansas City Royals in the previous October's expansion draft. Playing on a young team that also included fellow rookies Pat Kelly and Lou Piniella (the eventual American League Rookie of the Year), Oliver batted .254 with 13 home runs and 43 runs batted in in 118 games played. That year, Oliver achieved two firsts in Royal history: 1) He was the first Royal to collect six hits in a nine-inning game (only two other Royals, Kevin Seitzer in 1987 and Joe Randa in 2004, have since accomplished this feat) with a 6-for-6 performance in a May 4 victory over the California Angels, and 2) he hit the Royals' first-ever grand slam, the shot coming off Jim Bouton in the first game of a July 4 doubleheader against the American League's other 1969 expansion team, the Seattle Pilots.
1970 was a breakout year for Oliver; he established career highs in home runs (27) and RBIs (99) and runs scored (83). He enjoyed two more solid seasons in 1972 (during which he was traded to the California Angels), batting .269 with 20 home runs and 76 RBI, and 1973, batting .265 with 18 home runs and 89 RBI while splitting his time as a utility player. The Baltimore Orioles acquired Oliver for the 1974 stretch drive, he appeared in nine games for Baltimore. After the season his contract was purchased by the New York Yankees, but he only saw limited duty in 1975. In his career, Oliver batted .256 with 94 home runs and 419 runs batted in, in 847 games played.
Oliver managed the Sacramento Steelheads in 1999. He has also worked at two baseball schools in California's Sacramento County: operating his own Baseball Academy in Sacramento, as well as working as a hitting instructor at Dusty Baker's Baseball Camp in Rancho Cordova. 
Oliver's son Darren also played in the major leagues from 1993–2013. Both father and son were one-time teammates of Nolan Ryan; Bob from 1972 to 1974, and Darren as a rookie with the Texas Rangers in 1993, Ryan's final major league season.