Baseball United Foundation: spreading the game to Ireland

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I’ve spoken in the past with John Fitzgerald of the Baseball United Foundation. He’s a good guy who is part of a cool organization, the goal of which is to fgrow the game of baseball in places where the game is relatively new. Places like Ireland, where the game has started to take hold over the past decade or two.

They do stuff like this:

Chicago White Sox scout John Tumminia and former MLB pitcher Rob Bell will be leading the group of baseball pros – known as The Baseball Miracles group – with the help of the Baseball United Foundation. The group is scheduled to visit Dublin and Limerick in January 2014.

“The clinics will help to further establish the game of youth baseball in Ireland,” explained Baseball United Foundation founder John Fitzgerald. “We’re very excited to bring such a high caliber of coaching and instruction to the kids who are playing the game in Dublin and those who want to begin playing in Limerick.”

Baseball was very much a game for Irish immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th century. Kinda cool that it’s taking hold back home now.

Matt Shepard to be the Tigers new full-time play-by-play guy

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Fox Sports Detroit has named Matt Shepard their new full-time play-by-play guy for Tigers games. Shepard will work with analysts Jack Morris and Kirk Gibson, who will split time.

This is the move in response to former longtime announcers Mario Impemba and Rod Allen getting suspended and later fired following an in-booth altercation in Chicago last September. The two of them, who weren’t exactly friends, reportedly fought over a chair, with conflicting reports of how serious the fight was. An anonymous witness said Allen put Impemba in a choke hold. Allen recently gave an interview in which he denied that and said it was only some pushing and shoving. Either way, it ended their 16-year team-up for Tigers games.

Shepard has worked for Fox Sports Detroit for nearly 20 years, doing fill-in play-by-play for the Tigers — he replaced Impemba for the last few weeks of last season — and for Detroit Pistons games. Gibson has been a part time analyst for the network for the past couple of seasons, splitting time with Allen. Morris has done Tigers, Blue Jays and Twins games over the years, sometimes even splitting time between the Twins and Tigers, which is rather unusual.

Shepard is pretty good at his job. While Tigers fans liked and were familiar with Impemba, there won’t be a falloff in quality. Gibson makes some good analytical points and has a surprisingly sharp and biting sense of humor about him, but his gruff and monotone delivery is not everyone’s cup of tea. You get used to it. Morris is not my cup of tea — he tends to do a lot of the “back in my day” stuff former players often do — but I’m pretty sure he could recite the dictionary on TV in Detroit and a lot of Tigers fans would tune in. Such is life.