Emeritus, In Memoriam
Lyle Irving Olsen was born in 1929 in the state of Iowa, the son of father Hans Nikoli Olsen, an immigrant from Denmark, and Verna Leon Greeley, a native of Iowa. Lyle had one sibling, sister Jean Velva Olsen. Hans Olsen worked as an electrician.
After high school, where he was a three-sport star, including baseball, Lyle went to Chico State where he starred in baseball. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education and also married Elizabeth Van den Bosch in 1951. He began his minor league baseball career when signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers. He played shortstop and second base.
He was drafted into the U.S. Army in July 1951 to serve during the Korean War. He was released in June 1953, in time to play in the 1953 baseball season. He retired from organized baseball after the 1958 season. During his baseball days, he also had completed his M.A. degree at Chico State.
Lyle was Assistant Baseball Coach at Columbia University from 1958 to 1960 and at Queens College from 1960 to 1961. He received his Doctorate degree (Ed.D.) from Columbia University and was appointed by San Diego State as Assistant Professor in 1961. He served as Head Baseball Coach from 1965 to 1971. After 1971 he remained on the faculty at SDSU, but also coached baseball at the University of California, San Diego until 1978.
Lyle was a creative thinker and was Founder of The Sport Literature Association in 1983, devoted to the study of sport in literature and culture. The purpose of the organization was “to encourage, stimulate, and foster the alliance of sport with the humanities.” Other SDSU faculty were also involved, including English and Comparative Literature Professor Alfred F. Boe, and colleagues on the Physical Education faculty (Ralph M. Grawunder, Richard Wells), and faculty from other U.S. campuses.
Lyle retired from SDSU in 1989 and moved to East Tennessee State University where he was an adjunct professor. He died in 2000 at age 70 and left his legacy, the Sports Literature Association, intact. It still exists as a viable organization in 2014. The publication is called Aethlon: Journal of Sports Literature, a scholarly journal.
One report indicated he left behind second wife Phyllis Anne and three sons Erik, Newls, and Leif.