BOSTON – Suffolk baseball assistant coach John O'Brien has earned New England Intercollegiate Baseball Association's (NEIBA) Kevin Burr Assistant Coach Award. The organization present O'Brien with the award at yesterday's 2018 Joe Walsh NEIBA All-Star Game.
It is the first honor for O'Brien and first for a Suffolk baseball coach in the 13 years of the distinguished award.
Coaching expertise, recruiting, loyalty to the program and respect for the players and the game are some of the many criteria examined when reviewing the candidates for the NEIBA Kevin Burr Assistant Coach Award, but the most important standards are measuring active assistant coaches to the integrity and dedication to the game of college baseball that Coach Burr demonstrated throughout his storied career at Tufts.
In 2018, O'Brien wrapped up his 15th season as an assistant coach for the Rams. O'Brien works primarily with the blue-and-gold's pitching staff.
"John has been a staple to our program's success for well over the past decade," said Head Coach Anthony Del Prete. "John's commitment and passion for the game of baseball has been exemplified by his ability to coach and teach our athletes to perform at a high level. He is very deserving of this honor in recognition of his dedication to our student-athletes and to our program's continued accomplishments."
The Rams exceled on the hill this season, putting together a staff ERA of 4.39. It reflected in the overall results for the Rams, as Suffolk put together its best league ledger 13-1 on the way to fourpeat GNAC Championship and the program's fourth consecutive NCAA DIII trip.
Suffolk also picked up GNAC Player of the Year in senior centerfielder Brady Chant with 17 Rams taking home all-league accolades with four hurlers earning all-league status in Charles Batchelder (second team), Mark Fusco (second team), Ryan Pordes (third team) and Kevin Sinatra (third team).
When playing for the banner once again, Suffolk went on to the pen and called upon the talents of junior relief pitcher Jake Flax to help secure the crown for the blue-and-gold. The righthander did just that has he had a hand in each of the Rams' tourney victories including a save effort in the title tilt en route to GNAC Tournament MVP honors.
Since O'Brien's arrival to Suffolk in 2004 the Rams have brought home six GNAC Championship titles (2005, 2009, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2017) and advanced to the NCAA DIII Regional Tournament six times including the program's first-ever back-to-back trips in 2015 and 2016 and a historic run in 2017. Additionally, he was on the sidelines for the blue-and-gold's ECAC New England crown in 2014.
Under O'Brien's tutelage four Suffolk pitchers have gone on to sign professional contracts – Del Prete (Evansville Otters '05), Mike Rigazio (Charlotte County Red Fish '07), Rony Mercadeo (Brockton Rox '08) and Reid Jackson (Brockton Rox '09).
O'Brien is a 1994 graduate of Northeastern University where he was named all-conference and All-New England his senior season. Throughout the summer of 1992 he dealt for the Wareham Gateman of the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League and continued his player days professionally in the Frontier League in 1993 and 1994. He also spent time overseas in Europe playing for the Dutch League Haarlem, the Netherlands in 1995 and DSS Honkbal Club.
In December 2013, O'Brien was enshrined into the Intercity League Baseball Hall of Fame, an amateur baseball league widely regarded as the best among the Greater Boston Area.