At a dedication ceremony on Oct. 3, MIT announced that its baseball facility has been renamed Fran O’Brien Field, in honor of the former head coach of the Engineers. In front of a gathering of family, friends, and former players, O’Brien was honored with the renaming of the facility at which he led the MIT baseball program for 28 years. In conjunction with the renaming of the field, the facility is receiving a number of upgrades that are currently underway, with all of the work scheduled to be completed over the summer of 2016.
During O’Brien’s career he shared with his players a value system that highlights integrity and honesty. His commitment to being a teacher of baseball and of life allowed him to impact hundreds of young people and earned him the respect of the baseball community throughout New England. In recognition of this O’Brien was honored by the American Baseball Coaches Association with its Ethics in Coaching Award in 2014.
“Playing baseball at MIT was one of the best, most important times of my life,” remarked Rick Charpie '73, a member of the MIT baseball team from 1970 to 1973. “I had a typical MIT baseball experience — an average athlete who was inspired by great coaching to be part of a team that performed far beyond anyone’s expectations. Fran is on a very, very short list of people that I admire the most. He has more than earned all of the awards and recognition that he has received over the course his career.”
O’Brien was the head baseball coach at MIT from 1969 to 1996, his 28 years at the helm of the Engineers program making him the longest tenured baseball coach in MIT baseball history. Taking over a program that had posted just one winning season, O’Brien turned MIT into a contender in the Greater Boston League. He led the program to winning seasons in five of his first seven years, including the 1974 campaign that saw the Engineers set a then school record for wins with a 15-9 record and reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history.
In 1993 O’Brien led the team to a 22-11 record, another record for wins in a season, and was named the Division III New England Coach of the Year by the ABCA. O’Brien’s 255 victories are second all-time at MIT, trailing just current head coach, Andy Barlow, who passed the mark last season.
O’Brien, who also coached basketball at MIT, went on from Tech to coach baseball at Holy Cross from 1998-2004. He has also coached at the youth and high school level as well as in the Cape Cod League where he was selected as the Manager of the Year in 1990.