Welcome to Day 4 of “30 Days of Irish Baseball!” In previous installments, we saw the humble beginnings of the Irish National Baseball Team in 1995 and their preparations for the European B-Pool Championship tournament in 1996. We also traveled back across the Atlantic to Foley’s NY, home of the Irish-American Baseball Hall of Fame.
Today, we’re taking a look at the mysterious, and largely forgotten, attempts to introduce baseball to Ireland in the late 19th century and again in 1965.
Irish Baseball in the 1800s? You Bet!
Baseball historians are familiar with the name Andy Leonard. Leonard was born in County Cavan, Ireland and played on the first professional baseball team, the 1869 Cincinnati Reds. The Andy Leonard Award is given out to the MVP of the amateur Irish baseball league each year.
In 1874, Leonard was part of an overseas trip to promote baseball in England and Ireland. According to his diary, the traveling band of ballplayers played two games in Dublin:
“Saturday, August 22. Left the city at 10:45 A.M. arrived in Dublin at 10:30 P.M. A pleasant…”
Clearly, Sunday 23 is a sight-seeing day in Dublin…”went around the city in a jaunting car. Visited Phoenix Park, Nelson’s Monument on Sackville street, Trinity College, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Royal Barricks Exhibition Buildings, xc xc.”
Aug. 24 (Monday) at Dublin – Boston 12, Athletic 7
“Monday, 24. Beat the Athletics. Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin.”
Aug. 25 (Tuesday) at Dublin – Athletic 13, Boston 4
Cricket Match – August 24 and 25; Americans 165, All Ireland 65
Source: 19th Century Baseball
The tour was organized by early baseball pioneer Harry Wright. Another tour – also organized by Wright – brought baseball back to Dublin in 1889.
The Swingin’ Sixties – Baseball in Ireland in 1965
There isn’t much information available online about baseball’s mysterious emergence in Ireland in 1965. What is known comes directly from Project Cobb – fantastic organization that works to unearth and preserve the history of baseball in England.
In the article below, we can see that there was a team in Waterford and a team in Dublin. There doesn’t seem to be a record of manager Bill Barry or any of the players or coaches on either team, but the truth must be out there! Click here for the full newsletter at the Project Cobb website.