Edward O’Brien, legendary basketball and baseball player for Seattle University before becoming athletics director for over 20 years, passed away last Friday morning at the age of 83 (Dec. 11, 1930 - Feb. 21, 2014).
A Funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. James Cathedral, 804 Ninth Avenue, Seattle, on Monday, March 3 at 1:00 p.m., with a reception following at Campion Tower Ballroom on the Seattle University campus.
Along with his twin brother Johnny, Ed O’Brien came to Seattle U from South Amboy, N.J., after meeting then-head basketball and baseball coach Al Brightman at a semi-pro baseball tournament in Wichita, Kan., in 1949. From 1950 to 1953, he averaged 13 points per game in helping the Seattle U basketball team to a 90-17 record (.841) and trips to the 1951 National Catholic Tournament, the 1952 National Invitational Tournament, and the 1953 NCAA Tournament.
O’Brien also played baseball for Seattle U from 1950 to 1952, hitting .431 with nine home runs during the 1952 season. After the Seattle U basketball team was eliminated from the 1953 NCAA Tournament, he immediately headed to spring training for the Pittsburgh Pirates, for whom he played from 1953 to 1958.
Starting in the 1955-56 season, O’Brien returned to Seattle U during the baseball offseason to coach the freshman basketball team. He returned to the school full-time in 1958 as athletics director, a position he fulfilled until 1980. He also served as head baseball coach for a total of 14 years, compiling a record of 276-135 (.672).
O’Brien continued to be a strong supporter of the Seattle University athletics program as it renewed its membership within the NCAA and reclassified to Division I status. The annual fundraising golf tournament benefiting the men’s basketball program is named in honor of the O’Brien brothers, as is the building at 1218 East Cherry Street housing the Seattle U athletics administration.
“Eddie O’Brien has been an inspiration to all of us here at Seattle U. He was a gentleman first but also a fierce competitor who loved to win. There will never be another like him, he was our treasure,” Bill Hogan, Seattle U Director of Athletics, said.
Recently, O’Brien had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, but that did not stop him from attending Seattle U athletics events, including the Meet the Redhawks Baseball Dinner on Feb. 7 as well as the men’s basketball game against Grand Canyon at KeyArena Feb. 20. He served on the Seattle U Athletics Hall of Fame Committee, helping put together the class of inductees who will be honored at the Hall of Fame Luncheon Sunday, March 2.
The thoughts and prayers of the Seattle U athletics department are with O'Brien's wife Terry and the entire O'Brien family.