June 24, 2011
Brian O'Connor's ties to Omaha run deep. The Virginia baseball skipper was born in the Nebraska city and later pitched for the Creighton University baseball team, helping the Blue Jays to its first College World Series appearance in 1991. He returned to the CWS as an assistant at Notre Dame in 2002 and coached Virginia to its first appearance in 2009. O'Connor is one of just 14 men who have both played and coached in the College World Series, which has been held in Omaha since 1950.
Despite residing in Charlottesville, O'Connor's face, or at least his
its likeness, is always present in Omaha. A sculpture titled "Road to
Omaha" was constructed in 1999 in front of the main entrance of the
longtime site of college baseball's championship destination, Johnny
Rosenblatt Stadium. A depiction of the Virginia coach and his
Creighton teammates in 1991 were the inspiration for the statue. The
artist, familiar with the O'Connor family, used a picture of him when
completing the player on the right in the sculpture.
The statue was moved outside of the new TD Ameritrade Park upon the stadium's construction.
Watch the video above to see Matt Parsons story on the statue and how Virginia players and coaches feel about its visual accuracy.