Steve Olin – 1993 Donruss

March 31, 2011

R. I. P.

Some of you may not remember March 22, 1993. I do.

On Little Lake Nellie in Florida, an off-day for the Cleveland Indians turned into a heinous tragedy. Tim Crews, Bob Ojeda and Steve Olin were relaxing with their families when Crews, Olin and Ojeda went out for a twilight boat ride. Crews and Ojeda were new to the Indians. They were added to the club to help stabilize a very young team that was soon to gel into one of the powers of the AL Central in the 1990s. Olin used a funky delivery to become one of the top relievers in the AL. Drafted in the 16th round in 1987, he made his big league debut in 1989 and stuck for good in 1991. In 1992, he had 29 saves, a 3.0 WAR, an ERA+ of 169 and allowed only 22% of his inherited runners to score (and unlike now, then a closer routinely inherited runners).

There was some alcohol drunk during the day but Crews was familiar with the lake.  However, he was not familiar with a new dock that was put up by neighbors. And in the darkness, the boat hit the dock, killing Crews and Olin and severely injuring Ojeda.

The crestfallen Indians went through the motions of the 1993 season, finishing 76-86 again. In 1994, they were 66-47 when the strike occurred and continued their run through the 90’s. Amazingly, even though his scalp was almost taken clean off in the wreck, Ojeda started seven games for the Indians later in the year.

It was a tragedy for sure. To have two young men with families snuffed out at an early age is always a tragedy, regardless if they’re baseball players or snowplow drivers.

However, the sadness and doom of the Indians fans (especially the younger ones) were no doubt compounded by the inclusion of the cards of the trio in the 1993 baseball card sets.

Olin was in all of the base sets, as befitting an up-and-coming star. Ojeda was in most base sets, and in late season updates by Score Select and Upper Deck. Crews only had a base card in Fleer as a Dodger and Pinnacle, and his Pinnacle card he was listed as an Indian but in a Dodgers uniform.

More information here on the accident. By all accounts, it took the life of two outstanding young men and basically ended the career of a third.

 

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