Saturday, August 7, 2010

JMR's Distant Tour of the Irish American Baseball Hall of Fame

Suffering through the Red Sox' loss to the dreaded New York Yankees on Fox Sports today, I became intrigued by some banter between Tim McCarver and Joe Buck toward the end of the game.  Apparantly, McCarver was recently inducted into the Irish American Baseball Hall of Fame along with Brian Cashman, Bill James and a couple of other guys I don't care much about.  Fox Sports showed McCarver and Cashman getting plaques in an evening setting not unlike the Heisman Ceremony.  Although I was poking fun at McCarver, I was at the same time wondering what this all about.

But first I had to ask my 6 year old if he he knew what the Irish American Baseball Hall of Fame was.

After giving it a surprising amount of thought, he began to reason with me. "I don't know, Dad.  But do you want to play a game of wiffle ball?"  No.  Just Wii Soccer and Sorry tonight.

I was surprised to learn first that the Irish American Baseball Hall of Fame (IBHOF for short) was founded not in Boston, but in New York.  I would have appreciated Ted Kennedy doing something for ME for once and locate it near the JMR homestead.  On the other hand, I was not surprised to learn that the IBHOF was founded in an Irish Pub located in Midtown Manhattan called Foley's NY Pub and Restaurant.

Opened by self described baseball historian Shaun Clancy, in an historic building across from the Empire State Building in 2004, Foley's NY first gained notoriety when, in March 2008, Clancy banned the playing of "Danny Boy" for that entire month, maintaining that it was written by an Englishman who never set foot in Ireland and was too depressing of a song anyway to be played during the St. Patrick Day Holiday.  In the same vein, I hereby declare that JMR's house shall not play Lady Gaga's "Alejandro" for the entire month of August 2010, which includes the Today Show appearance that has been on my DVR list for 6 weeks.  If that increases readership - great.

That same year, this place somehow got the approval from Major League Baseball to open the IBHOF.  MLB sanctioning an off shoot Hall of Fame in an Irish Pub that before this time was most proud of Joe McEwing's first autograph?  Who's Joe McEwing?  Exactly.  Does anyone in Cooperstown or the New York Headquarters read the memos that come across his or her desk?

And then the list of inductees to the Irish American Baseball Hall of Fame since 2008 immediately jumped off the page.  Important and historic baseball figures such as Connie Mack, John McGraw and Walter O'Malley almost shared this distinction with baseball luminaries such as John Fogarty, Rosie O'Donnell (seriously!) and John Cusack.  Not exactly a group heading to Cooperstown any time soon. 

Said 2009 inductee Kevin Costner upon his induction, "I'm humbled to be included with real baseball historic figures, especially after I released "For the Love of the Game."  I know that my great, great, great grandmother, who endowed me with my Irish descent would be proud."  Next year's class I've heard will include Madonna, Charlie Sheen and Susan Sarandon.
All kidding aside, the owner definitely has a crack PR staff.  This guy and his little bar are all over the Internet when you do a little research.  Not to mention profiles in USA Today and ABC News from the "Danny Boy" brouhaha.  I applaud Clancy's effort and of course the next time we're in New York, you know where we're heading. 

But first and foremost, Foley's NY is a restaurant.  How's the food? A $12 burger better taste pretty good.

photographs courtesy of and

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