Walter T. O'Brien, booked Orioles' road trips

March 18, 1994|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,Sun Staff Writer

Walter T. O'Brien Sr., a retired passenger representative of the Pennsylvania Railroad who booked trips for sports teams and fans for more than four decades, died Sunday of a stroke at the Hospice of Martin Inc. in Stuart, Fla., while on vacation in nearby Hobe Sound. The Lutherville resident was 87.

Called "Obie," he was also known as "The Sports Man with the Pennsy." He worked for the carrier for 45 years and retired in 1968.

He began his career at the railroad in Annapolis, booking accommodations for various Naval Academy teams.

Later, he worked in an office in Baltimore's Pennsylvania Station where he helped plan road trips for the Baltimore Orioles and booked trains or chartered cars for fans to attend sporting events.

"In 1951 when the San Francisco 49ers were playing a Saturday night game in Philadelphia -- Baltimore had kind of embraced them as a surrogate team because of Y. A. Tittle [who had played for the Colts] -- Obie had organized an excursion that must of had 700 or 800 fans," recalled John F. Steadman, Evening Sun sports columnist.

"They got off at North Philadelphia and marched under banners to Shibe Park, and the citizens didn't know what was going on. He . . . could put those events together and make them click. He clearly loved his work and loved the Pennsy."

Bob Brown, who was traveling secretary for the Orioles in 1960, said, "We traveled to New York by train for games and poor Obie, he'd have to suffer through the same incessant jokes about arrow holes in the sides of the passenger cars because they were so old.

Mr. O'Brien was born in Baltimore and attended city schools before going to work for the railroad when he was 16. He attended McCoy College and studied voice at the Peabody Institute.

His first wife, the former Clara M. Jones, died in 1964.

Services were to be held at 11 a.m. today at the Ruck Towson Funeral Home, 1050 York Road, with interment in Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens.

He is survived by his second wife, the former Mary Altevogt; a son, Walter T. O'Brien Jr. of New Milford, N.J.; a stepdaughter, Barbara JahnButts of Freeland; five grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

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