Eddie O’Brien, Gone At Age 83

One half of one of the most amazing Topps cards of the 1950s is gone.

Eddie O’Brien amazed me in 2010 with a letter that told about that famed card with his brother, his brief stint as a Pirates pitcher and getting scouted by Bing Crosby.
The always-amazing www.sportscollectors.net tallied 152 responses in 166 tries for Eddie O.
Eddie was famous, too, for taking the 1954 card (or the Archives) to his brother John for a second autograph. I don’t think most TTM collectors requested the effort. It was usually a surprise. Two autographs, one stamp, giving “double play” new meaning.
Great friends to the hobby remain. Write them while you can.

Pitcher John D’Acquisto Topped 100 MPH in 1974

Love the pic:
“Spell my name? Here –
it’s on the back!”

Pitcher John D’Acquisto did more than win a dozen games and a couple of awards in 1974. He achieved his own share of history while having a good bit of baseball fun.

Start with June 7, 1974. Whenever a pitcher blasts a homer, bet that there’s a good story behind the four-bagger. With thanks to http://www.retrosheet.org/, heeeeeere’s Johnny’s!

“The game was tied in the 8th inning against the Pirates and bing crosby was in the stands because he owned a percentage of the Pirates.

Bruce Miller walked and Larry Demery had gone 0-2 on me in the count. I was looking for a fastball away and he threw me a fastball right down the middle.

I took a swing and my eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. I hit right on the sweet spot and ripped it into right center field, a line shot.

In fact I was running so hard because I thought it was a double. When I hit second base (coach) Joe Amalfitano had his hands up like to stop me. I stopped between second and third and he yelled at me to'”keep running. You hit a dinger! Enjoy it, son, enjoy it!’

I will never forget that, because it was the game-winning home run and boy, did I get the silent treatment from my teammates. It was hilarious…”

No less than historian Bill James salutes D’Acquisto’s firepower. The pitcher quoted James, when asked how hard he threw:

“In any five-year period, there are 40 guys who are claimed by someone to be as fast as Walter Johnson, or as fast as Bob Feller, or as fast as Nolan Ryan, as fast as whomever the standard is at the moment. People made the same exact sort of comments about Pete Broberg that they did about David Clyde. We have the same kind of quotes about Gary Gentry, claiming he was faster than Seaver.

The fastest known [D’Acquisto bolded the words himself] radar reading from that era, other than Nolan Ryan, was for John D’Acquisto.’ — The Mighty Fastball, by Bill James

I was clocked at 102.4 against the LA Dodgers, 5-28-74″

How would you look back on nearly a decade in the majors? This is how the veteran sees it:

“My career was a good career based that I was on teams that never really did well, yet I was able to put together some great years and made those teams competitive in their own right. It was an honor to be able to play Major League Baseball for as long as I did.

I have no regrets on my life after baseball. Things happen to good people and they change your perspective of life and trust of others. I learned from my mistakes, that is the key.

John D’Acquisto 1974
NL Rookie Pitcher of the Year TSN
NL Rookie of the Year TSN”

More great “Johnny D” memories were shared in this 2005 profile from J.D. Hawk.

Tomorrow: what would you do if manager Billy Martin ordered you to throw a spitball?

Now Pitching, Pirate Infielder Ed O’Brien?

A position player pitching? You mean blowout game, mop-up duty?

Don’t tell that to Ed O’Brien.

I confess, I wanted to ask about that famous 1954 Topps card, picturing the O’Brien twins. Forget the Olsen twins. Skip those sisters. I’d rather see Ed and John turn a double play.

However, www.Retrosheet.org amazed me again. Going to “top performances” I found results from September 14, 1957, a day in which the Cubs ate humble pie. One infielder took the mound and confounded Chicago.

Ed O’Brien replied in magnificent calligraphy-like penmanship:

“With Dick Groat at shortstop and Bill Virdon in center field, the Pirates were using me as a utility player. In all, I played seven positions. Because I had a strong arm, they decided to see if I could pitch. At Columbus AAA I had 3 or 4 pitching appearances while still playing in the field. Dan Murtaugh started me against the Cubs in Wrigley Field. I won, 3-1, complete game, throwing fastballs and hard sliders.

Both of us on the Topps 1954 card was their (the company’s) idea. They sent copies to all those signed with them. Everyone received the same compensation. Nothing like today’s figures.”

I had asked if Topps paid both brothers an individual fee, even if they shared one card…

Lastly, I wanted to know about a fellow Washingtonian and famous Pirates fan.

“Bing Crosby came to Seattle on three occasions to talk to us (John and I) about signing with the Pirates. He was a minority owner. He would attend spring training every year and became a lifetime friend.”

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