Half of the answer to a relatively obscure baseball trivia question, O’Brien played for six seasons in the major leagues. He came up with Pittsburgh in 1953 and, after a year in the military, returned to the Pirates for the 1955 season. He spent one more season in Pittsburgh before concluding his career with stops in St. Louis and Milwaukee. O’Brien did not ever get into more than the 89 games he appeared in during his rookie campaign. His best year with the bat was 1955 when he hit .299 in 278 at bats with 25 RBI and 22 runs scored.
A rarity amongst most players, O’Brien also pitched in the majors. He appeared in 25 games over three seasons, compiling a 1-3 record and a 5.61 ERA in 61 innings of work.
As for the trivia question, O’Brien and his brother Ed were the first twins to play for the same team in the same game when they both suited up for the Pirates. They are also one of just four brother tandems to play second base/shortstop for the same team.
O’Brien notes that his brother Eddie O’Brien was his favorite teammate. The duo were also teammates at Seattle University where they played on the basketball team. At 5-feet, 9-inches tall, Johnny was the shortest NCAA Basketball All-American selection ever until 2016. Both he and his brother were drafted by the Milwaukee Hawks in 1953 but chose to pursue careers in baseball rather than basketball.
Johnny O’Brien – career stats