Seattle University President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., made it official at an alumni luncheon Saturday, Dec. 11: the building at 1218 E. Cherry St. will now be known as the Ed and John O’Brien Center for Athletic Administration, honoring the great Seattle University basketball and baseball players for their years of supporting the athletics program. The O’Brien Center received a $2.3 Million renovation recently and is strategic for Seattle U’s continued progress towards NCAA Division I excellence.
The O’Brien twins were further acknowledged during a halftime presentation at Saturday’s men’s basketball game between Seattle University and Idaho at KeyArena at Seattle Center. Led by Seattle U Director of Athletics Bill Hogan and John Dougherty, athletics development officer, the O’Briens, who turned 80 years young Saturday, were treated to the crowd’s rendition of “Happy Birthday to You” during the ceremony.
“The O’Briens are a treasure to Seattle University, and it is fitting that we honor them in this way so that they will always be a part of the athletics program,” Hogan said after the presentation. “Eddie and Johnny played a major role in our return to Division I with their personal involvement in several projects and we wanted to make sure we thanked them for their inspiration over the past 60 years.”
Ed and John O’Brien came to Seattle University from South Amboy, N.J., in 1949 after being recruited by Al Brightman. After joining the varsity basketball team in 1950, the brothers helped Seattle U post a 90-17 record (.841) in three seasons, reaching the 1951 National Catholic Tournament, the 1952 National Invitational Tournament, and the 1953 NCAA Tournament. The O’Briens were also part of the 84-81 victory over the Harlem Globetrotters on Jan. 21, 1952, in front of a sellout crowd at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
The brothers made as much of an impact on the baseball diamond as they had on the basketball court, leading the Seattle U baseball team to a 62-14 record (.816) from 1950 through 1952, including the 1952 NCAA Tournament. John O’Brien still holds the school record for batting average in a single season, hitting .566 (47-of-83) in the 1951 season, while Ed O’Brien scored 45 runs during the 1952 season and stole 54 bases during his collegiate career.
Images of the O’Brien brothers will greet visitors as they enter the O’Brien Center. The athletic administration will move into its new offices over the next few weeks, with the entire move expected to be completed by mid-January. There will be an official opening of the O’Brien Center March 19, 2011.