Seattle U legend O'Brien passes away at 83

Before I knew anything about Seattle University, I knew about Eddie O'Brien. When I was a kid, nowhere close to thinking about which college would someday be my alma mater, I remember reading a story about the O'Brien twins, Eddie and Johnny, leading the Chieftains to an upset win over the Harlem Globetrotters in a legit basketball game in 1952.

I was reminded of that story last Monday, when I took my wife and nephew to a Globetrotters game at KeyArena, where the Seattle U logo adorns midcourt. I told my nephew about 5-9 Johnny dropping 43 points and 5-9 Eddie chipping in 13 in SU's 84-81 win over a Globetrotters squad headlined by Goose Tatum. I told him about SU's history as a national basketball powerhouse back in the day, a foundation built on the shoulders of players like Eddie O'Brien.

Then on Friday, Feb. 21, we heard the news that Eddie O'Brien had passed away at the age of 83.

O'Brien was a basketball and baseball star at Seattle U from 1950 to 1953. He averaged 13 points per game on the hardwood, helping the Chieftains make the NCAA Tournament, the NIT and the National Catholic Tournament during his career. On the diamond, O'Brien he posted a .431 batting average in his junior year, and later went on to play Major League Baseball for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

When his playing days were over, O'Brien (a native of Amboy, N.J.) returned to Seattle U as its athletic director, serving from 1958 to 1980. During that time he was also the baseball coach for a 14-year period.

Following his retirement and up until his passing, O'Brien still served on the SU Athletics Hall of Fame committee and was a presence at many Redhawks sporting events.

"Eddie O'Brien has been an inspiration to all of us here at Seattle U," current SU athletic director Bill Hogan said in a statement released by the school. "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."

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