OLEAN — Along with the announcement the Olean Oilers are taking a leave of absence from the New York Collegiate Baseball League for the 2021 season it was revealed that team president Brian O’Connell is stepping aside other than a possible consultant role.
“There have been a lot of people who have helped in this organization throughout the years that really stand out,” he said of the franchise that debuted nine years ago and was idle last summer due to Covid-19. “It’s not only myself, it’s the people in the background, who don’t get a lot of recognition, that have really helped me since we started this back in 2012.
O’Connell specifically offered nine names:
Bobby Bell: “He was our first head coach and was coach when we won our two (NYCBL) championships. Bobby took it upon himself with me to start this whole organization and he was with us through the early years starting (with games) at Bonaventure, then the (Olean) Middle School and finally Bradner Stadium in 2014 and obviously in ’15 and ’16 when we had those tremendous years.”
Abbie Bricker: “She was our Point-Streak statistician and was with us from the beginning ... hardly ever missed a game and it was all volunteer. It’s amazing to me the commitment and dedication that she had to show up at those games and get those statistics in the computer for all the players for any scout who would want them.”
Sean O’Connell: “My nephew was our first general manager. He helped me with issues at St. Bonaventure and then the stadium when we first started there.”
John Dry: “He was an assistant coach for the Oilers for every season but one. John was a great assistant coach for me the last two years that we played and with Bobby ... he just understands the game.”
Larry Sudbrook: “Larry was my college coach and we always started with St. Bonaventure in terms of recruiting. When we first started we played at St. Bonaventure, so he and his program were a great benefit to what we were able to accomplish.”
Brian and Carol O’Connell: “My parents, in the early years, were the ones at the gate, and helping fundraise. My mother would bring meals for the players and take care of the gate receipts. My father would handle the merchandise until we partnered with Sports Locker. They were instrumental in helping me.”
Matt Fidurko: “He’s been my right-hand man for years. He was our general manager but you could put so many hats on him … chief operating officer, recruitment coordinator. He basically ran everything ,which allowed me to coach. He took care of the players, made sure they got on the bus and got fed. He’s so good at what he does that I truly believe someday he’ll be in a pro organization if he wants to stay in this type of career.”
Rene O’Connell: “My wife, who was my vice president since we started this, was like the Oilers’ mother, taking care of the players, making sure they were fed properly and that everything was running smoothly. She’d go to BJ’s and have giant carts full of food to take down to the dorms at Bonaventure.”
He concluded somewhat wistfully, “There’s a lot that goes into it and those people, and I may be leaving some out, have gone above and beyond and really helped me create the organization that we had.”