For UVA Baseball Players This Season, It’s an Honor To Wear ‘The Jacket’

June 8, 2023 By Andrew Ramspacher, Andrew Ramspacher,

Standing in the middle of a huddle in shallow left field at Disharoon Park, University of Virginia head baseball coach Brian O’Connor bowed to suggestions from his assembled players and raised a baseball above his head and proclaimed “Game ball 48 is a team ball!”

As the players, jubilant after a huge win, cheered in unison, Cavaliers associate head coach Kevin McMullan interrupted, pointed to O’Connor and shouted, “That means you gotta wear The Jacket!”

The celebration was part of the postgame scene last Sunday night following UVA’s 8-3 victory over East Carolina University that clinched for the Wahoos the NCAA Charlottesville Regional and a spot in this weekend’s super regional round.

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Virginia is two wins away from advancing to the College World Series for the sixth time since 2009. The Cavaliers open a best-of-three series with Duke University on Friday at noon in a sold-out Disharoon Park.

Brian Edgington wearing The Jacket

Senior pitcher Brian Edgington, a third-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection, is among the Cavaliers who have worn The Jacket most often. (Photo by Matt Riley, UVA Athletics)

For the Hoos, each game represents another chance for someone to wear The Jacket. 

The Jacket is something you might have seen on the racks at Mincer’s in the 1990s. Vintage from the rib knit cuffs and collar to the snap buttons, the predominantly navy nylon garment with orange accents is punctuated by the old-school Cavalier face logo on the left chest.

A tradition that began after UVA’s season-opening victory over Navy on Feb. 17, O’Connor hands the “game ball” to a player he felt best positioned the team to win that day. That player then gets the honor of wearing The Jacket in the ensuing press conference and until the next game on the schedule.

So far, O’Connor has handed out 48 game balls, aligning with UVA’s 48-12 record.

“It’s to reward who steps up for us and shows toughness and grittiness,” O’Connor said. “It might be somebody who hit a big home run or a pitcher who had a great bounce-back start or somebody who made great defensive plays in the game.

“It’s not necessarily the star of the game. It’s just someone who served us well and helped us win.”

Bryce Rosenberg, a two-time UVA alumnus and the baseball team’s recruiting and operations assistant, is The Jacket’s keeper. During home games, he takes The Jacket from its designated locker in the clubhouse and brings it to the dugout. Should the Cavaliers win, Rosenberg carries The Jacket to the post-game huddle, listens for O’Connor’s game ball announcement, slaps a sticker of that player’s number on the back and then presents that player his reward.

The back of The Jacket tracks all those who have earned the right to wear it with stickers representing a player’s jersey number. (Photo by Matt Riley, UVA Athletics)

“We all want to be the ones to wear The Jacket,” said senior pitcher Nick Parker, who’s done it four times this season, including after last Saturday’s dominant performance in UVA’s 2-1 win over ECU. “It’s just a cool acknowledgement to receive after the game.”

“The coolest thing about The Jacket is how it looks,” added junior third baseman Jake Gelof, who’s worn The Jacket three times this season. “It’s also about getting it for the boys after showing out for a good day, but it looks pretty cool. Walking around, you got that vintage UVA logo.”

Parker and Gelof are members of the team’s six-player leadership group that, in early January, decided they wanted something tangible to commemorate individual performances throughout the season.

“And they came up with the idea of getting an old-school Virginia jacket,” O’Connor said.

The assignment of finding such a gem fell to Rosenberg, who began scouring the internet until he came upon the winner on eBay. For $50, he made the purchase of an extra-large retro UVA jacket. The manufacturer is DeLong Sportswear.

UVA players lift their Jacket-wearing head coach, Brian O’Connor, following the win over East Carolina on Sunday at Disharoon Park. (Photo by Matt Riley, UVA Athletics)

“The person who sold it,” Rosenberg said, “they might be looking at our games right now thinking, ‘Wait a second. That was the jacket I sold on eBay!’

“It’s kind of funny to wonder if that person has any idea that that jacket is now a staple of our baseball program.”

The Jacket has been awarded 46 times to players. On two occasions, the routine was turned around on O’Connor, who received it on March 5 after UVA’s 16-6 rout of the University of Rhode Island gave the coach his 800th career win and again last Sunday when the postgame huddle agreed that the East Carolina victory was a total team effort.

Connelly Early wearing The Jacket

UVA pitcher Connelly Early sports The Jacket at the press conference following UVA’s regional-clinching win over ECU last Sunday. (Photo by Emily Faith Morgan, UVA Communications)

“That was awesome, man,” Parker said. “(O’Connor), he’s our leader, so I think it was special for us to give him The Jacket. It was nice for us to reward him because he’s here every day, he’s motivating us, he keeps that message, he keeps us going all the time.”

O’Connor, humbly, allowed Connelly Early, Virginia’s winning pitcher, to wear it to the press conference.

“These guys, they’re very proud to wear it,” O’Connor said. “I remember (junior catcher) Kyle Teel, the first time he won it, he went into the locker room and looked at himself in the mirror before he came out for the press conference. And he’s just beaming.

“They just wear it with pride. They love it.”

Media Contact

Andrew Ramspacher

University News Associate University Communications