Sunday, February 28, 2016

Meet the Brewers #20: John O'Donoghue

A major-league veteran who was once an all-star in the same season that he led the American League in losses, John O'Donoghue was the twentieth Brewer to play in 1970. He made his appearance in relief of Marty Pattin in the 8th inning of game two. O'Donoghue coaxed a fly ball out of Sandy Alomar, Sr., before Jim Fregosi singled and Bill Voss tripled to drive Fregosi in. 

O'Donoghue was yanked, and Voss scored on a single from Alex Johnson immediately thereafter. That left O'Donoghue's ERA at 54.00 after facing three batters and pitching one-third of an inning.

1970 McDonald's Brewers
John Eugene O'Donoghue was another short-timer in Milwaukee. O'Donoghue signed with the Kansas City Athletics in 1959 as a free agent out of the University of Missouri. Looking at his minor league record, it's a bit of a question as to how he actually made it to the major leagues, except, perhaps, that it took him a while to show he could pitch at all. His best minor league work -- in the Double-A Eastern League in 1963 -- led to him getting called up to the majors by the end of the year. 

He stayed in the major leagues in 1964 for the entire year, and results for him were not great, as he sported a 4.92 ERA in a league with an overall 3.63 ERA. Somehow and for some seemingly inexplicable reason, he served as Kansas City's (seemingly) sole All-Star representative despite first-half results of 4-12, 4.08 ERA, 30 walks and 36 strikeouts in 92-2/3 innings. By the end of the year, O'Donoghue had racked up 18 losses, good enough to lead the league.

Perhaps recognizing that he wasn't very good, the A's traded him in April of 1966 to the Cleveland Indians for Ralph Terry. After the 1967 season -- his best year to date at 8-9, 3.24 ERA (3.10 FIP), the Indians packaged him in a deal to Baltimore. One year after that, and in April of 1969, O'Donoghue joined the Island of Misfit Toys in Sicks Stadium in Seattle. He was cited by Jim Bouton in Ball Four as being the "chief kid-shooer" around the stadium, with Bouton claiming O'Donoghue enjoyed the work.

1994 Miller Milwaukee Brewers
He pitched very well in Seattle as a reliever. That success did not carry over to Milwaukee, as O'Donoghue was bombed to the tune of a 5.01 ERA (4.91 FIP) in 23-1/3 innings. The Brewers dumped him on the Montreal Expos on June 15, 1970 in exchange for a utility infielder (Jose Herrera) who never played in the majors for Milwaukee. O'Donoghue pitched for the Expos in 1970 and 1971, at which time his career came to an end at the age of 31. He coached a couple of years (at least) at Bowie in the Eastern League in 1993 and 1994.

Other than that, I have three other things about him. First, he participated in an "Elderhostel" vacation series in the Bradenton/Sarasota area several years ago, where 25 or so folks over 55 paid $569 for four game tickets in spring training with five nights of meals and lodging and the opportunity to meet former Negro Leaguer Leon Harris along with O'Donoghue. I don't know if he still does that.

Second, he can be seen here standing on second base for some infield drills with a coach that I can't hear.

Finally, his family is also pretty athletic. O'Donoghue's son, John Preston O'Donoghue, was an amateur free agent signed out of LSU by the Orioles. Against many of the odds, John Jr. made it to the major leagues in 1993 at the age of 24 and pitched 19-2/3 innings in his major league career. His grandson is Landon Archangelo, who is a quarterback on the football team at Shippensburg University. 

As best I can tell, there are a grand total of four cards/items showing him as a Brewer. He has two Mike Andersen Postcards from 1970 with two different photos along with the two cards I've got.


  1. Nice post, I didn't know a lot of that about him, but I did know he went to Mizzou. I have one of his cards, but not of his time in Milwaukee.

    I like that Miller Lite card.

  2. That doesn't seem like a bad deal to hangout with a couple of players for 5 days.

    Great post Tony. This series is always a great read.