Like father, like son; O’Halloran’s share same but different draft experience, News (Terriers Baseball)

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Aug 28, 2023 | Matt Betts | 1856 views
Like father, like son; O’Halloran’s share same but different draft experience
It was the summer of 1988 and Greg O’Halloran made his way to the mailbox.

In it was a piece of paper from the Toronto Blue Jays.

“I found out that I was drafted when I received a telegram in the mail a few days after the draft,” Greg recalled of being the 836th pick in the 32nd round of the 1988 MLB Draft.

“So not anywhere near as exciting as hearing your name called on TV as they do today.”

Hearing his name was exactly what his son Connor experienced 35 years later when the Blue Jays made him their fifth-round pick, 157th overall last month. 

It was a moment the younger O’Halloran had been anticipating since his high school days playing for Terriers Baseball. 

Several trips with the Junior National Team bridged him to the University of Michigan where he pitched three seasons for the Wolverines, winning the Big Ten Conference championship in 2022. 

Leading up to the draft he was named the Big Ten Pitcher of the Year thanks to a 2023 season that saw him go 8-6 with a 4.11 ERA in 17 games, 15 starts, while striking out 110 in 103 innings. He credits Michigan, and their high standards for success, as being critical to his development. 

He also went to the MLB Draft Combine at Chase Field in Arizona, home of the Diamondbacks, prior to draft day. 

Despite the track record, the accolades and many interviews with teams leading up to it, he knew all about the wild card that was the draft. 

“I had a general idea of where I would possibly be drafted but knew how unpredictable it could end up being once the draft came,” Connor said. 

“I learned that most of the conversations were about trying to figure out what a player is like as a person, what you can’t see physically on the field.” 

And then the moment came. 

A dream come true and one he was sharing with his family, girlfriend and Wolverine teammates in Ann Arbor. 

“Hearing my name called in the draft was probably the most proud and fulfilling moment I’ve had in my baseball career,” he said. 

“Just to know all the hard work and hours I’d been putting in for years in order to make this dream a reality was a surreal and overwhelming feeling.” 

To be drafted by his hometown team, and the same club who also picked his father, made it all the more special. 

“I remember going to games all the time as a kid and dreaming of what it was like to play for the Jays and Canada’s team,” he said. 

“To have a chance to represent my home country and our team is something that everybody dreams of, so to have it be a reality is just even more motivating.” 

Connor says having a father who went through a similar process helped him along the way but Greg stops short of taking any sort of credit. 

“I didn’t give Connor any advice,” Greg said. 

“I just told him that whoever picks him is going to get a really great player and teammate and that they will be happy they got him. Both myself and my wife Sheryl felt very proud of him because this is what he wanted since he was a little kid and he made it happen.” 

Greg played five seasons in the Blue Jays system, with stops in class-A St. Catharines, class-A Dunedin, double-A Knoxville and triple-A Syracuse, before finally getting the call to the big leagues for 12 games with the Florida Marlins in 1994. 

Connor now finds himself in Low-A Dunedin, where he picked up his first professional win with two innings of work in a 10-7 win over Clearwater, an affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies, on Aug. 18. Former Fieldhouse Pirate and Campbell Camels infielder Bryce Arnold (Grimsby, Ont.) backed his fellow Canadian by going 3-for-5 with his first home run and four RBIs. 

It’s a long way from Dunedin to Toronto, 2,188.3 kilometres and three more affiliates to be exact, or 1,359.7 miles if you’re tracking south of the border, but it’s a ride Connor hopes to take all the way to the big leagues. Just like dad. 

“I’m just excited to get started with my pro career and continue to try and get better every day whether it’s on the field or in the weight room,” he said. 

“The best piece of advice I’ve received is to not stray from what’s made me successful in the past. So as I go forward I don’t think it’s about placing any specific expectations on myself, just continuing have fun playing the game I love and enjoying the experiences to come.” 

This story was originally published on the Canadian Baseball Network.

Photo courtesy of University of Michigan Athletics.