Gerard O’Brien, FCRH ’43, a member of the Fordham football squad that won the 1942 Sugar Bowl, died on Feb. 10. He was 87.
O’Brien graduated from All Hallows High School in New York City and began his varsity career at Fordham as a six-foot, 195-pound halfback.
He played football for the Rams from 1940 to 1942 under the tutelage of head coach Jim Crowley, one of the famed Four Horsemen of Notre Dame. During those years—a time when Fordham was near the top of the collegiate football world—the team’s record was 20-6-1.
O’Brien played in two of the program’s most prominent bowl games, the 1941 Cotton Bowl, in which the team lost 13-12 to Texas A&M, and the Sugar Bowl the following year, in which Fordham beat Missouri 2-0.
He was mentioned in The New York Times as part of a 1991 retrospective on Fordham’s Sugar Bowl win:
“When the Rams returned home and Toots Shor held a party, a backup center named Jerry O’Brien—a backup center—sat between two people and made the discovery of a lifetime. To his left sat Gary Cooper; to his right, Joe DiMaggio.”
O’Brien returned to Rose Hill in 2007 to celebrate the football program’s 125th anniversary, where he was presented with a framed copy of the 1942 Sugar Bowl program.
Visitation is set from 7 to 9 p.m. on Feb. 12 and from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. on Feb. 13 at Fairchild Sons Funeral Home, 1201 Franklin Ave., Garden City, N.Y.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 14 at St. Joseph’s Church in Garden City.