Toast the twins with a Sons of Eire supper

By John Owen | Mar 06, 2014

New generation sports fans unfamiliar with the O'Brien twins might be advised to think "Russell Wilson" times two.

It's not a far-fetched comparison.  Because Eddie and John O'Brien were baseball standouts in Perth Amboy, N.J., recruited to travel across country to play basketball.

They led the Seattle University Chieftains into the NCAA basketball playoffs, and were subsequently signed to play baseball for the Pittsburg Pirates where they became the first twins in major league history to play in the same infield, in the same game.

In recent years, Eddie and his wife lived in Edmonds.  I recall meeting them one afternoon at the Saturday Farmers Market.  I believe they resided at the time in a condo on Walnut Street, but moved back to Seattle when Eddie was named athletic director at Seattle U.

He died last week at the age of 83, recalling for legions of long-time Seattle-area fans of the night the O'Briens and the Chieftains packed the University of Washington basketball arena for a victorious game against what was then a superbly talented Harlem Globetrotter team.

For a couple of years I looked forward to chats with Johnny O., at Edmonds Center for the Arts.

After he closed out his political career in Seattle, the members of John's family presented him with a cherished, surprise gift.  He long lamented the fact that he had never fulfilled a lifelong dream of playing classical violin.

Suddenly he had the instrument and the instructor, an elderly violinist with Cascade Symphony.

I asked him sometime later how his lessons were progressing.

"Terrific," he responded.  "Just last week my instructor took me aside and said, ‘John, I've been teaching violin for several years.  But you just played a note that I have never heard before.’"

As John's instructor grew older, he hesitated before making nighttime trips to Edmonds for Cascade Symphony concerts.  So Johnny O'Brien volunteered to drive him.  And then, during each concert, Johnny O. sat in the same seat, second row left.  And I would meet backstage with him during intermissions, to revive old times.

His violin instructor and friend eventually retired from Cascade Symphony, so I don't see Johnny O., much any more.

The recent loss of John's twin brother, Eddie, marks the end of an era, and recalled for thousands of Seattle-area fans the years when John and Eddie O. were among the most popular  and beloved figures in local sports.

Out of habit I will occasionally glance down from a balcony seat just to see who is now occupying second-row left seats at Cascade Symphony concerts.

Sons of Eire Supper

Rub a cup of brown sugar into a hunk of corned beef, then place in a pot with one and a half cups of water and a half cup of white wine. Add to the pot:

1 chopped onion

1 teaspoon cloves

pinch of dill

pinch of basil

1 teaspoon dry mustard

8 peppercorns

pinch of cinnamon

pinch of caraway seed

1 teaspoon prepared horseradish

Bring everything to a boil, then cover and reduce heat. After you have simmered these ingredients for an hour then turn the meat, replace cover and cook another 80 minutes.

Peel and halve some potatoes, turnips and carrots and toss into the pot.  After 30 minutes, or until barely tender, add a head of cabbage, quartered, and cook until the cabbage is tender but not wilted.

Serve the meat and veggies on a large platter and pass the pot liquid around in a gravy bowl to slop over everything.

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.