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When Joseph O'Donnell '67 accepted a full scholarship to Harvard in 1963, University officials knew they were getting one of that year's most sought after student-athletes.
What they did not know was that O'Donnell would later secure the future of baseball at Harvard.
O'Donnell, who now owns Boston Concessions Group, Inc., recently donated $2.5 million to the baseball program and created an endowed chair for Harvard's baseball coach.
Joe Walsh, Harvard's recently hired baseball coach, will be the University's first O'Donnell coach.
"The endowment is a tremendous boost for the program," said Marc Levy '96, captain of the baseball team.
"The coach will have more time to spend on recruiting and looking for the best people for the program."
In an interview with the Harvard Gazette last week, O'Donnell said the aim of this endowment is to give "the flexibility of permanent support for the baseball program" so that the program will not depend primarily on the University's money for funding.
Last year, the football program received a similar endowment, which created a chair for coach Tim Murphy.
One of the reasons for O'Donnell's donation is the gratitude he feels towards Harvard.
"The institution gave so much to me that I wanted to give something back," he told the Gazette.
O'Donnell's endowment will go a long way in attracting more top student-athletes:
"If Harvard does not have excellent extracurricular programs indebate, music, baseball and everything else, then the talented debaters, artists and athletes--who also happen to be among the most outstanding students--will not come to Cambridge," O'Donnell said. "The academic excellence of the entire student body would then suffer."
As a student, O'Donnell was one of Harvard's star athletes. Among his many achievements, he served as captain of the baseball team, won the Wingate award as the team's valuable player and earned All-Ivy and All-East honors.
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