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.

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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