The Irish influence on 19th century baseball can’t be overstated. Indeed, in his “Historical Baseball Abstract,” Bill James wrote this:
“Baseball in the 1890s was dominated by Irish players to such an extent that many people, in the same way that people today believe that blacks are born athletes, thought that the Irish were born baseball players.”
Insert a century and an ocean and the idea of specifically-Irish baseball players seems kind of odd. Descendants of Irish-Americans of that era have been assimilated, so we tend not to think of them as Irish in the same way they used to be thought of (for better and for worse). No one back in Ireland plays it of course. Or at least that’s what I thought before I read this:
Baseball may be America’s National Pastime, but the Irish have been playing baseball for over a decade. “The Emerald Diamond” is an award-winning documentary that tells the story of Ireland’s new found obsession with the game. Originally released in 2006, “The Emerald Diamond” is being re-released in March 2011 as part of a national screening tour to raise funds for non-profit groups and youth baseball leagues in Ireland and America.
Apparently there are youth and adult leagues all over Ireland now. Got their own website and everything. File that under stuff that (a) I did not know before this morning; and (b) makes me happy.