Stories from Fans Like You!
Tony Oliva belongs in the Hall of Fame for his extraordinary feats on the field and off. Tony’s character and demeanor have always been Hall of Fame quality, but have been outstandingly patient and loving during this trying and disappointing time of being denied what he so deservedly has earned–a place amongst Major League Baseball’s greatest players. Statistics can be manipulated and used to defend almost any position a group or individual is determined to stand with. But Tony’s career stats are solid and his reputation stellar both on and off the field. Baseball needs more charismatic true heroes and leaders in its most prestigious Hall who played the game with pure unadulterated strength, love and character and that sums up Tony Oliva. Harmon championed Tony’s cause from his first day of eligibility and I can do nothing else because it is truly deserved and the right thing to do. This is this committees last opportunity to do the right thing and vote in the appropriate manner for a true Hall of Famer.”
Mrs. Harmon Killebrew
I have an interesting story and piece of history about Tony Oliva. My wife had told me a story about how Tony Oliva came to Elysina, MN and purchased a cow from her grandfather. Of course I was skeptical, but after she dug through the archives of the small town library for the news article it was not just a story, but a piece of history. It was true and the news article and picture were there to prove it with a young Tony Oliva, her grandfather, her father, the local butcher all in the picture from the paper. We were unable to locate an original copy, though believe it is someplace in her parents house, but were able to copy this article and photo from the archives. Once we got the copy we went a step farther in the process and had one copy inscribed and autographed to her father, and another autographed for our own collection. This shows how not to long ago these baseball greats were not always guarded by security and difficult to even associate with, but rather in public view and lived similar to many of those during that time period. This is always a story and piece of history that I enjoy sharing.
Baseball holds a unique role, and responsibility, in our American culture for many reasons. One of baseball’s most poignant responsibilities is the very visible mechanism by which baseball measures, acknowledges and recognizes individual “greatness” and contributions to the sport by including selected individuals in the Baseball Hall of Fame. By any measure, Tony O belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
From the moment Tony joined major league baseball, he set a new standard for what players, teams, fans and society could expect baseball players to contribute and compete at the highest level from the moment they stepped on the field as rookies. To this day, Tony’s instant contributions to baseball, including winning batting titles in his first two year’s in baseball have yet to be equalled, and in fact, may never be.
Tony O continued to contribute, at the highest level of excellence, throughout his baseball career as a complete field player. During his era, Tony O was both an offensive and defensive standard-bearer for baseball.
True greatness in baseball, and in all sport, extends beyond accomplishments achieved on the field of play to include the contributions individuals make to their teams, communities and society outside the white lines of competition, and of equal importance, is how individuals conduct themselves and represent baseball greatness off the field. Tony accomplished great things upon the field, and of equal importance, represented baseball excellence, both on and off the field, with humility and grace. By this measure alone, Tony O would have been a first-ballot selection to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
During his playing career, and continuing to this day, Tony O is a great ambassador for the game of baseball as a player who performed at the highest level of excellence, and as a man who who continues to contribute to baseball and society with class, character and humility. By this measure, Tony O belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Tony O will be an additive measure of baseball greatness to the collective body of work that is Cooperstown. The individuals already enshrined in Cooperstown will welcome Tony O and his greatness amongst them as his enshrinement meets any measure of baseball greatness, he is their equal.
I implore that the individuals who are now entrusted with the responsibility of acknowledging baseball greatness recognize Tony O and select him for enshrinement in the Baseball Hall of Fame, where he rightfully belongs.
I have had the pleasure of knowing Tony Oliva for 47 years. When Tony arrived from Cuba and started playing for the Minnesota Twins, he was sought out by everyone in the community. I was a teacher at Columbia Heights High School at that. I taught both English and Spanish. I received a call from the Twins indicating that Tony was going to be speaking at various places around town and needed someone to interpret for him. I said yes. From that time until this very day Tony and I have been friends. Tony has never changed. He always had a smile on his face and was kind and courteous to everyone that he met. He always had the time to talk to people and to sign an autograph for that person. My wife, Pat, and I have kept in contact with his wife Gordette for these many years. Because of his great personality he has always been one of the finest Ambassadors for the Minnesota Twins and Major League Baseball. I hope that you all will join us in making sure that Tony O becomes a Hall of Famer on December 5. We will be in attendance at the induction ceremonies on July 22, 2012 in Cooperstown, New York. Vote Tony O into the Hall of Fame
I would like to tell you a little bit about my next door neighbor, Tony Oliva. I moved into our neighborhood in 1996.
My eldest boy who is a total baseball nut was so excited that we lived next to Tony O! I brought my son, Sean to meet Tony and Sean locked up in front of his hero and couldn’t speak. Tony being Tony eventually got him to open up. Sean told Tony that he was at a recent autograph show and was in Tony’s line, but that he REALLY wanted was a Paul Molitor autograph, so he went into that line and the show closed before he could get it! I was half mortified! The next day, our doorbell rang and there was Tony Oliva with an autographed Paul Molitor baseball for my son.
Another example of Tony’s kindness: One of my wife’s friend had terminal cancer and her time was getting closer. One day she was at our house visiting, and mentioned she had always wished that she could meet Tony O. I called over to their house and Tony answered, I asked if he could come over as a favor and I would explain later. A few minutes later, in came Tony. He looked at our friend, realized her health issues, took off his jacket and sat down next to her. He visited and they laughed and Tony had all the time in the world for her. Over an hour later, I walked Tony to the door. As we stepped outside I looked at Tony’s house and his driveway and the street was full of cars!!! They were having a BBQ with a ton of guests, and Tony had all the patience in the world for my friend.
You know all of Tony’s stats, and his life in baseball. I know about Tony’s life after he was done playing. His constant support for all of my charity work, including autographs and photos for all, donating his name to so many charitable efforts, but most importantly his time. Treating EVERY fan as if they were truly special.
I have always told people, that every young baseball player should learn how to deal with fans from Tony Oliva. From start to finish, he is nothing but a class act, a good friend, and one of my heroes.
I ask that you consider sending this worthy former player, and current Ambassador of Baseball to the Hall of Fame.
Thank you for your consideration,
I was at a game a few months ago, proudly carrying a 1960′s model Harmon Killebrew first baseman’s glove that had just arrived from ebay [I'm a bit of a Killebrew memorabilia nut...another story], when I passed Tony in the concourse, having his picture taken and greeting fans. I thought about it for a moment, and decided I would ask Tony to sign my glove. I waited for a break in the photo action, and sheepishly approached Tony. He explained that “they don’t want me signing out here,” which I understood. Before I could get away, however, he whispered “Go over there by the elevator and I’ll come over and sign it in a minute.” I went to the designated spot, and waited for a few seconds before I started feeling stupid. Hey, I’m 50+ and I’m bothering the great Tony O, I thought. Childish. So I continued on my way down the concourse. I got about 30 yards away when someone tapped me on the shoulder. I’d never seen this person before, but he said to me “Tony wants to talk to you.” I went back to where the photos were happening, and the messenger proudly reported “Hey Tony, here’s that guy you wanted.” Tony then looked my way and said “I told you to stand over there… ” with a wink. I went back to my spot and a few seconds later Tony came over and signed my old glove, which now sits proudly on the display of Harmon stuff in my office. Next to my Vote Tony O hat when I’m not wearing it. What a great guy.