Matt O’Brien had a direct tie to half the teams in the Atlantic League. He was the first general manager in franchise history for — in chronological order — the Long Island Ducks, York Revolution and Sugar Land Skeeters. He also served as an assistant general manager during the Somerset Patriots inaugural season.
Now he’s moved on to the NBA.
O’Brien left the Skeeters last month to become the senior director of corporate partnerships with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Both O’Brien and Opening Day Partners chair Peter Kirk described the move as an attempt to return to the Midwest, a move to be closer to family. Kirk thought ODP — the ownership group for the Revs, Barnstormers, Blue Crabs and Skeeters — almost lost O’Brien to a job in the Midwest a couple years ago. ODP shifted O’Brien to Sugar Land and added the responsibility and title of president to his everyday duties.
O’Brien, who oversaw the successful first season of an Atlantic League team in Texas, noted he doesn’t foresee a return to minor league baseball.
“I’m pretty sure I’m done,” O’Brien said.
The Skeeters have not announced a replacement, but Kirk said the franchise is in good hands with former and longtime Astros front office man Tal Smith in place as an adviser. The Skeeters will “take their time” Kirk said, in finding the right candidate.
O’Brien, meanwhile, leaves behind a lifetime spent in minor league baseball. During his first season in York, he survived the postponement and rush to complete Sovereign Bank Stadium. Among the many promotions he ushered in Monkey Magic Mondays, where fans came to the ballpark Monday nights to see if a magician, a monkey or both would be on the concourse. He and his staff also brought the home run cannon into the stadium, a tradition that continues to this day.
In Sugar Land, the franchise managed to break virtually every attendance record the league owned. And his franchise welcomed Roger Clemens, perhaps the biggest signing for a team in the Atlantic League.
O’Brien flew to Pennsylvania with Clemens last summer when he pitched a bullpen session at Sovereign Bank Stadium. Fans had started to wait outside the Skeeters clubhouse before batting practice, even, so when the stretch Humvee finally arrived in York, fans were ready to see a celebrity. When O’Brien jumped out first, fans didn’t miss a beat as many jokingly exclaimed: “Matt O’Brien!” Without missing a beat, O’Brien raised his hands and turned to the fans, many of whom he talked to on gamedays for years as the Revs general manager. After the fans had a laugh, he moved to the side and Clemens eventually exited the Humvee.
He has a lifetime of “phenomenal memories,” O’Brien said.
“Along the way some of those players, coaches, umpires and fans all became friends,” O’Brien said.