Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Baseball

Associated Press

Today is St. Patrick’s Day which is easily one of the weirdest holidays.

It’s weird because it celebrates and even encourages the most basic cultural appropriation and stereotyping but it’s one of the rare examples where most of those who are of the culture being appropriated or stereotyped don’t really seem to mind all that much. Maybe it’s because, at least among those in the United States, the culture is pretty far in the rear-view mirror by now, with the racial, ethnic and religious oppression the Irish suffered falling a few generations back. My Italian name notwithstanding (my dad was adopted) I am half Irish. If it weren’t for that adoption my name would be McIntyre, I was a ginger kid whose hair turned brown and, to this day, if I grow a beard it comes in red. But really, I’d have to jump through some pretty ridiculous hoops to even muster some phony outrage over Irish stereotyping. I take far more personal offense at people drinking like amateurs on March 17. That is where our anger should truly lie. Real Irishman are laughing at you and your green Miller Lite, kids.

Baseball and St. Patrick’s Day often go together because St. Patrick’s Day falls during spring training. This year, as is the case in most years, several teams will wear green uniforms or caps for their Grapefruit and Cactus League Games. The Reds started this as a tradition in 1978. We wrote about that once here at HardballTalk. For the record, here’s what the Dodgers look like today:


Here’s a great story about how, one year, the Dodgers went green for an entire season. It was 1937 to be precise. Between that, their temporary change to “The Robins” as their nickname and that time they wore satin uniforms, the Dodgers were kind of messed up back in the day.

What else? Oh, Irish players! Lots of people make lists of the best Irish-American players. And there have been several good ones, of course. I was more interested in finding actual native-born Irish major leaguers. There were a TON of them in the 19th century, of course, as Irish immigrants dominated during that period. That largely petered out in the 20th century for lots of reasons. The last man to play in a major league game who was born in Ireland was Joe Cleary. He pitched one third of an inning for the Senators in 1945. He gave up seven runs on five hits and walked three guys which may have caused him to ask what happened to the luck o’ the Irish. If you’re curious about Cleary, Sully Baseball did a podcast about him a couple of years ago.

That’s about all I got. Be careful out there today. And really, don’t drink green beer. You look ridiculous.