So, initially I wanted to post my full paper about Irish society hindering the growth of baseball in Ireland on here that I wrote for a class last semester, but the file is too large. Instead, I’ll post the highlights of the paper.
My Personal Experience:
My experience with Irish baseball began in November of 2015. Both of my paternal grandparents were born and raised in Ireland so I was proud when I finally became an Irish citizen and learned of the potential opportunity to represent Ireland on the National Baseball Team. They did not recruit me by any stretch of the imagination. The only reason I was even aware that there was an Irish National Baseball Team was because the players on the British National Team told me about the Irish team during a post-high school European baseball tour. Following the news that I had become an Irish citizen—two years after my time in Europe—I spent a few hours on the Internet attempting to learn how I could play for the ‘Boys in Green,’ and eventually settled on simply emailing the head coach after coming across the Baseball Ireland website. I sent Coach Sean Mitchell an email telling him that I was interested in playing for the team and followed up by sending a recruiting video to him. He responded a few weeks later and informed me that I had made the team. Six months later, in June 2016, I arrived at my first National Team practice at the International Baseball Centre in Ashbourne with absolutely no idea what to expect. While it was, and still is, a small operation, I was impressed with the time and energy that was put in to make the National Team competitive.
Hitting and Throwing:
One societal difficulty standing in the way of the growth of baseball in Ireland are the sports that Irish children grow up playing. Hurling, an ancient Irish sport, is a sport that is somewhat similar to lacrosse in the sense that each player has a stick that must be used to advance the ball up field. The catch, however, is that the ball must be hit up and down on the stick while running. Although the form of hitting in hurling is different than baseball, this aspect of the game is actually beneficial to helping Irish children learn how to hit, because hurling cultivates hand-eye coordination. This helps young children to have success when first learning to hit a baseball. That being said, hitting is only half of the game. The other half, throwing and catching, provides serious challenges to Irish children because hurling, Gaelic football, soccer, and rugby are all prominent Irish sports that do not include any overhand throwing motion. During my five weeks in Ireland, it became very clear that this is the skill that the Irish struggle with teaching. Baseball Ireland has had difficulty teaching pitching, and the youth clinic that the National Team ran in July brought the struggles with throwing to the forefront. Children as old as fifteen were on the same throwing skill level as six or seven year olds in America.
On another note, there was a documentary made about the founding of the Irish National Baseball Team. It is pretty entertaining, and gives some insight into the initial struggles they encountered PLUS it’s on youtube: www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFlUQfZr3MA