Welcome back to the game, Joe Oliver. The former Reds catcher has been hired as a coach in the World Series champion Red Sox farm system, where he will manage the Single A Lowell Spinners.
Oliver had not been involved in professional baseball since he retired in 2001 after a thirteen year career, mostly spent with the Reds. In fact, Oliver helped lead Cincinnati to its last World Series championship in 1990.
Facing Oakland closer and future Hall of Famer Dennis Eckesley in the tenth inning of a 4-4 game two, Oliver came to bat with Billy Bates at second and Chris Sabo at first. Oliver promptly singled to left field, driving in Bates for the walk-off win and putting the Reds up two games to none on their way to a four game sweep of the heavily-favored Athletics.
In his eight years in Cincinnati, Oliver averaged ten home runs and guided an excellent pitching staff. He was also very well-liked by the fans for his toughness and work ethic. Many in the Queen City hoped he would join the Reds organization when he retired, but Oliver decided to leave the game for a while.
“It’s been an experience being away from the game, raising my family, but I promised my wife I’d step away and help after retirement,” Oliver told lowellspinners.com. “I’m very excited and appreciative to return to the game and begin this chapter, especially with Lowell.”
Even though he has not worked professionally, Oliver has stayed involved in the game. He coached at the youth level and more recently at Bishop Moore Catholic High School in Orlando, Fla.
“I feel like I’ve been out of it long enough, but I’ve been involved [coaching AAU and high school],” said Oliver. “I’m excited to get back to the next level.”
Even though Reds fans would like to see him start his managerial career in the Cincinnati organization, it seems appropriate for Oliver to work with Boston. He spent his last season in a Red Sox uniform, including his last game on October 6, 2001. Not only did he catch a three-hit victory for David Cone, but Oliver also went three for four at the plate.