Saint Leo University Director of Athletics Francis X. Reidy announced the appointment of Saint Leo Hall of Fame baseball player Sean O'Connor as the new head coach for the Lions in December of 2012. O'Connor, a 1983 graduate from Saint Leo College, has over 19 years of collegiate coaching experience spanning across all three NCAA divisions, and is the 15th coach in program history.
In his second season coaching the Green and Gold, O’Connor led the team to a second-straight winning season, which included three series sweeps, a 12 game win streak, and a broken school record for consecutive SSC victories with 10. The team finished with an overall record of 33-16, posting an impressive home record of 21-6. O’Connor’s squad was honored with several postseason accolades, including one NCBWA All-America Honorable Mention, two ABCA/Rawlings All-South Region Selections, two NCBWA All-South Region First Team Selections, three Daktronics All-South Region Selections, four All-Sunshine State Conference Selections, the Sunshine State Conference Freshman of the Year, five SSC Player of the Week awards, three NCBWA Regional Player of the Week awards and one NCBWA All-Region Pre-Season First Team selection. The Lions also saw one player selected in the MLB Amateur Draft (Fran Whitten, 37th round to the Los Angeles Angels).
In his first season back in the Green and Gold, O'Connor led the Lions baseball team to its highest win total (35) since 2001, the best winning percentage (.710) since 1996, and a second place finish in the Sunshine State Conference. In addition, O'Connor first year as a head coach saw six players be named to the All-Sunshine State Conference Teams, two of which were first team selections.
"I am very excited to have Sean O'Connor back on campus, and for him to lead our baseball program," Reidy said. "He brings professional baseball scouting experience, collegiate coaching experience at three different levels, a connection to our alumni, and an unquestioned passion for Saint Leo that separated him from the great pool of candidates who were part of this search process."
O'Connor has invested nearly two decades as a college baseball coach, having coached in all three divisions of the NCAA. His coaching career commenced in 1984 as the pitching coach at Framingham State, and spanned through the likes of Brown University, Assumption College and Providence College.
"I am excited and honored to be the head coach at Saint Leo University," O'Connor said. "I am coming back to a place that I am very proud to have been a student-athlete."
A native of Framingham, Mass., O'Connor also has extensive experience in the Major League Baseball ranks where he served as a scout for both the Colorado Rockies and San Francisco Giants before being named a Southeast Regional Supervisor for the Seattle Mariners. His decision-making as a scout has played an important role in the drafting of top-notch players such as Buster Posey, Jonathan Sanchez, Emmanuel Burriss, Ben Copeland, Euenio Valez and Zach Wheeler.
"We found ourselves in an interesting mid-year transition, and I felt it was important to select a coach who was not only passionate about Saint Leo Baseball, but was also part of a winning culture here at Saint Leo for the current team members," Reidy continued. "We also wanted to find someone who possessed the recruiting connections, evaluation skills, and experience to tackle the challenge of losing 15 players to graduation this spring."
Through all of his baseball experience, O'Connor's most glowing accolade came in 2009 when he joined the ranks of Saint Leo elite with a nomination into the Hall of Fame. His four-years as a student-athlete at then-Saint Leo College were some of the most successful in program history, where he was on a Monarch's squad that won 121 games. O'Connor appeared in 63 games during his career, which stands second all-time, after starting for the Lions his first two seasons and then switching roles as closer his junior and senior campaigns.
O'Connor, who has been scouting in the Southeast for the last several years, will be able to utilize his current network, along with his coaching and playing roots from the Northeast, in order to help lead the program back to the destination it was for baseball players back in the 1970's and 80's.
"I look forward to working with our players, coaching staff, alumni and administration," O'Connor concluded. "I hope to continue making our baseball program an organization that we can all be proud of, on and off the field."