May 21, 2003

One on One with Mark O'Brien

May 21, 2003

by Brian Betz, sports editor
The Santa Clara

Sports Editor Brian Betz sat down for a few minutes to chat with men's head baseball coach Mark O'Brien.

BB: Since Pepperdine has clinched the division, what are you looking to gain from this weekend's homestand against Saint Mary's?

OB: It'll say a lot about our players and how competitive they are. It's a chance to win over 30 games, which hasn't been done in 6 or 7 years and that will send a message to not only the guys leaving, but to returning guys. It'll let them know they can win games.

BB: What improvements have you seen in the program since you took over here two years ago?

OB: Our work ethic has picked up. I think we're starting to pick up our depth. All good programs have good depth and we're starting to get that.

BB: What do you think of next year's recruiting class?

OB: I couldn't ask for anything better. We signed the best high school pitcher in the nation from Santa Margarita High School. We picked up a catcher, we signed two outfielders that I think are as good as anybody. And we signed a power hitting first baseman from Rocklin High School in northern California. I feel really, really strong about this next class.

BB: Okay coach, now let's get down to business. I hear you're a big Starbucks nut, is that true?

OB: Ha, every morning. Sometimes I open the place up. I drink it to get myself going.

BB: What do you order?

OB: The biggest coffees you can get.

BB: What's the angriest you've ever gotten over an umpire's call?

OB: Probably up in Reno last year. I got kicked out and basically the ump made three or four bad calls and I had to stick up for our players. I had some choice words that couldn't have been printed.

BB: Do you ever get out there at practice and play with the team?

OB: Once in a while I'll take a few ground balls but I never take BP (batting practice). I throw BP every day, but I never wanted to be one of those guys that goes out there and hits all the time as a coach. I'll get the leather out though and mix it up with our infielders and put them in their place.

BB: Any pre-game superstitions?

OB: Before games I go to church. I go every day. Every time I run out to coach third I'll touch the base. Friday's I'll be by myself to prepare. I'll take all the information I have on the team we're playing and read every bit of it. Usually, I'll meditate for five or 15 minutes, or I'll sleep for five or 15. The goal is to have a clear mind whenever I take the field.

BB: Any good off-field college stories you'd want to share from your playing days at San Jose State?

OB: Let me think...Well there's a million, but let me think of the best one. When I was in Alaska playing on my summer team, one of my jobs was to work on the field during the day before games. So my buddies and I took the tractor and drove it on the highway in our uniforms. You can imagine some college kids driving a tractor on the freeway in Anchorage. People thought we were nuts, which we probably were.

BB: Have you ever been involved in any clubhouse pranks?

OB: I've been in tons of those. When I was playing with Nolan Ryan's son, Reed Ryan, we both stole a teammate's car. He thought it was stolen and the police came and he was freaking out. And it wasn't his, it was his buddy's Mercedes. We sat around the corner, watched him panic a little bit then we gave it back to him.

BB: Your bio says you're single. Do you date?

OB: I do. I've been single for a long time. I'm dating someone right now, but I have no plan on getting married anytime soon.