Orioles Card "O" the Day

An intersection of two of my passions: baseball cards and the Baltimore Orioles. Updated daily?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

John P. O'Donoghue, 1994 Stadium Club #86

The John O'Donoghues are the only father-son pitching duo in Orioles history. There have been four such pairs of position players: Bob and Terry Kennedy, Don and Damon Buford, Dave and Derrick May, and Tim Raines Sr. and Jr. You might remember the elder O'Donoghue (John Eugene) as the taciturn, enigmatic Seattle Pilots bullpen mate of Jim Bouton in the excellent book Ball Four. John's son (John Preston) stood tall on the mound at an impressive 6'6" (three inches taller than his pa), making him the tallest Delaware native to play in MLB. He was a teammate of righthander Ben McDonald at Louisiana State University, and for a brief time with the 1993 Orioles. John signed with the O's in 1990 as an undrafted free agent, making his eventual ascent to the majors quite commendable. Though he allowed plenty of baserunners in his 19 and two-thirds innings, he had a strong strikeout rate (16 total) and his 4.58 ERA was only slightly above the 4.47 league average. He failed to earn a win in his brief 11-game career, leaving him in the shadow of his father's total of 39 victories.

Like the second John O'Donoghue, I tend to tower over my own father. (I'm 6'1", he's 5'8" - let's hear it for recessive genetics!) But in all honesty, I still look up to him. Nearly twenty years after dropping out of college, my dad found himself at a sort of career crossroads and took a shot at a new line of work that was more in line with his interests: teaching art. He was able to get his foot in the door at my Catholic elementary school on the basis of his portfolio and an agreement that he would continue his own education. Over the next decade, he would teach two to three days a week while taking a few classes a semester...and working full time at a warehouse (nights and/or weekends) to better support our family.

I cannot begin to imagine how grueling this schedule was for him, particularly when I think of the last few years of it. By then, he was student teaching so that he could complete his certification, and had an increased load of homework. Most days he would wake around six in the morning, go teach (or student teach - he was doing both) in the morning and take a college class in the afternoon (or vice versa), work at the warehouse from 3-11 at night, come home, and do homework until 2 or 3 AM, at which point he'd sleep in the living room for a few hours until it was time to do it all again. On one occasion, the chair of the art department at Towson University (where my father was earning his degree) ran into Dad on campus, took one look at him, and ordered him to go home and sleep. It was only after he'd made it through the ordeal and received his diploma that my father admitted that he'd been on the verge of a nervous breakdown. It must have taken a great amount of patience, strength, and faith for him to hang in there and see things through to the end. I don't know if I could do it now, in my mid-twenties, and he accomplished it in his mid-forties.

Happy Father's Day, folks. I hope you've had some time today to think about what it is that makes your own Dad remarkable.

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