The Irish in America’s Pastime

You can observe a lot just by watching. ~Yogi Berra

The same can be said for listening and reading.  Last week was the anniversary of Bill James publishing his Historical Baseball Abstract.  Understanding the impact of his work and the creation of sabermetrics, which have changed how teams evaluate players and provided everyone with a greater understanding of how teams win games.  Reading more about Bill James and found that he was a 2010 inductee the Irish American Baseball Hall of Fame.  So naturally, I started researching the Irish American Baseball Hall of Fame, as I had never heard of it before.

The Irish American Baseball Hall of Fame was established in 2008.  It is located inside Foley’s NY Bar & Restaurant across the street from the Empire State Building in Manhattan.  Visitors must use door handles that are wooden baseball bats to enter Foley’s.  Once inside the majority of the wall and ceiling space is covered with baseball memorabilia.  The memorability ranges from photographs, signed baseballs, jerseys, signs, to bobbleheads, and any other baseball related item imaginable.  While there is a lot to see, the displayed memorabilia is not jumbled together, making each item easy to view and interesting.

Ceiling of jerseys and shirts at Foley's. (The Winning Run)

Ceiling of jerseys and shirts at Foley’s. (The Winning Run)

The inside of Foley’s looks like Mr. Mertles’ home in The Sandlot, only with better lighting.  There are pictures of Reggie Jackson’s third home run in Game 6 of the 1977 World SeriesPete Rose fighting Bud Harrelson of the New York Mets during Game 3 of the 1973 National League Championship Series.  You have Alex Rodriguez’s 600th home run ball.  A Carl Crawford Boston Red Sox jersey hangs from the ceiling.  A bobblehead of Orbit, the Houston Astros mascot is on display as well.  The list of items displayed by Foley’s continues around the restaurant.  It would be easy to spend a full day looking at everything, without repeating.

Wall full of signed baseballs and bobbleheads. (The Winning Run)

Wall full of signed baseballs and bobbleheads. (The Winning Run)

As quirky as the Irish American Baseball Hall of Fame might sound, and might truly be, it is still important for both baseball and America.  It connects the past with people like Manager Connie Mack to the present with nominees like current Met Michael Cuddyer and everywhere in between with Dodgers announcer Vin Scully.  It also reminds us that America is a country of immigrants.  We have come from all over the world to make America our home.  On the diamond, it does not matter if you or your ancestors came from Ireland, Japan, Venezuela, Kenya, or if you are a mixture of cultures.  What matters is whether you can play America’s pastime.  Every group has its own history in America, but when these histories are put together they create the history of America.  The Irish American Baseball Hall of Fame simply tells the Irish story of their place in baseball and in America.

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