Posted on 12 October 2012.
Originally posted on BaseballJourneyman.com
What country won its first international baseball game against a country that no longer exist and the first player to get a hit in international play was born in another country?
I have always been fascinated with baseball played in countries other than the USA. Sure it’s the same game, but at the same time it’s not. Awhile back I came across a documentary on baseball in Ireland, and I had to see it.
The Emerald Diamond is a beautiful film. It chronicles the emergence of the Irish National Baseball Team on the European baseball scene. It is an interesting story told by film maker John Fitzgerald.
Up until 1995 there was no Irish National Baseball Team. It basically formed out of the desire of a few softball players who wanted something a little more. They continued the hope and formed a team that would eventually play internationally in 1996.
The European B Pool Championships were being held in England in 1996, so the boys in green got ready and made the trip.
Most of the players on the team had very little or no experience playing baseball growing up. For the most part they were far outmatched by their European counterparts, but they never quit.
After a successful trip to England, for a developing team at least, they received some help from an Irish-American. Peter O’Malley at the time was the owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers but was a player in helping develop baseball globally. He helped build the O’Malley baseball fields in Corcaigh Park in Clondalkin, West Dublin, Ireland which is considered the home of Irish Baseball. It also happened to be the first baseball field in Ireland.
The team continued to play in the European Championships gradually doing a little better each time as they gained more experience. However, it was when the team raised funds and took off on a trip to the USA that things really seemed to turn around.
In 2001, the Irish National Team and an all-star youth team took a two-week trip to the east coast of the States to play exhibition games. They learned a lot on this trip and it eventually helped them improve in the long run. Both the youth team and the National Team quickly learned from seeing other teams practice and play. They also received some help from coaches in the States that they met in the games. It was a great learning experience that helped propel the team to further heights.
However, the highlight of the trip had to be playing an exhibition game at Fenway Park.
Throughout the film you see the want and desire on every players face as they go through a learning curve. But that desire to compete and improve never leaves. It’s an infectious thing that no matter how bad the loss might have been would always creep back into the minds of the players and coaches.
That’s the beauty of the film. It’s great seeing the improvement of the team, and they really did improve but I don’t want to give everything away (you’ll have to watch the film). But the real beauty if seeing the growth of the game on every level. Not only did the adult program expand and improve, but so did the youth programs and that is really where the growth of the game will come from. The first adults to play the game will get old, but if the kids find a love in the game you will have baseball forever.
It’s a great film. Head on over to IrishBaseballMovie.com to read more about it and don’t forget to pick up a copy. You might be surprised how quickly the team went from nothing to winning games internationally.
I have to give this a 5 glove rating. It’s definitely one you’ll want to own.
Stay tuned for more reviews coming soon….
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