The Emerald Diamond: How the Irish Transformed America's Greatest Pastime

The Emerald Diamond: How the Irish Transformed America's Greatest Pastime

by Charley Rosen
     
 

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The history of the Irish in baseball is much richer than anyone realizes. From early discrimination to later domination, from Mike Kelly, a society star in the 1880s, to the managerial fame of Connie Mack (né McGillicuddy), early Irish players and managers helped shape the game of baseball in every way. From the first curveball to the first players' unions,

Overview

The history of the Irish in baseball is much richer than anyone realizes. From early discrimination to later domination, from Mike Kelly, a society star in the 1880s, to the managerial fame of Connie Mack (né McGillicuddy), early Irish players and managers helped shape the game of baseball in every way. From the first curveball to the first players' unions, Irishmen took America's national pastime and made it their own, turning it into the glorious game we know today, as more recent players have kept alive the Irish tradition of setting records.

A wild, fun, fact-filled celebration of the Irish in baseball, The Emerald Diamond intersperses interviews with current players with tales of such players as Dan Brouthers, who at 6'2" and well over 200 pounds, was the game's home-run king until Babe Ruth came along; and includes lively anecdotes about such colorfully nicknamed ballplayers as Tony "the Count" Mullane, Mike "King" Kelly, James "Pud" Galvin, Hugh "One-Arm" Daily, Frank "Silk" O'Loughlin, and "Iron Man" Joe McGinnity. Just a few of the great Irish athletes featured as well are Mickey Cochrane (for whom Mickey Mantle was named); Charles Comiskey; Ed Walsh, the last pitcher to win 40 games in a single season; and Ed Delahanty, whose prodigious life and mysterious death continue to be a source of intrigue. With decade-by-decade profiles of exciting Irish figures on the field and off, The Emerald Diamond also offers important discussion on cultural and political themes relevant to their times.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
FoxSports.com analyst Rosen (Bullpen Diaries) provides a virtual roll call of every Irish player who ever donned a professional baseball uniform, recounting statistics and exploits in exhaustive detail. Large numbers of immigrants, scant employment opportunities, and a hatred of all things English, such as cricket, contributed to Irish immigrants embracing baseball. The game helped them “assimilate into American life,” and Rosen contends that it was primarily Irish players who “popularized and modernized the game” through the early 20th century. Rosen is heavy on statistics, but light on analysis. The result is a chronicle of achievements more than the case for recognition stated in the title. Innovations by Irish players include the development of pitcher/catcher communication, various defensive strategies, and shin guards for catchers, but those are overshadowed by the litany of batting averages and ERAs. More focus on the careers and present-day manifestation of the contributions and innovations of longtime managers such as Ned Hanlon and John McGraw would have pleased all baseball fans, Irish or not. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Rosen (Bullpen Diaries: Mariano Rivera, Bronx Dreams, Pinstripe Legends, and the Future of the New York Yankees) creates a narrative time line of baseball as it was shaped by Irish American players, coaches, and team owners. Readers will learn of Lizzie Murphy, the first female to participate in a major league game; Nixey Callahan, who threw the first American League no-hitter; Mike O'Neill, responsible for the first pinch hit grand slam; and many others. Much information is presented in bulleted format, making for quick, easy reading. Rosen highlights many substantial contributions of Irish Americans, such as the introduction of shin protectors for catchers and batting helmets for all players. Some of the most entertaining bits are less momentous but equally fascinating: the use of pocket-size brooms for umpires or a player being struck by lightning during a game. Filled with fun snippets of baseball lore, this will appeal to avid baseball fans.—M.M.
Kirkus Reviews
Just in time for St. Patrick's Day--a celebration of the many men (and one woman) of Irish descent who have densely populated professional baseball, especially in its earliest decades. FoxSports.com analyst Rosen (Bullpen Diaries: Mariano Rivera, Bronx Dreams, Pinstripe Legends, and the Future of the New York Yankees, 2011, etc.) has nothing too weighty on his mind here. The text is full of bullet points, lots of anecdotes and earnestness mixed with facetiousness. The author begins with a snapshot of the game in 1894, a game that in some ways resembled today's, in other ways was nearly alien (pitchers had to keep both feet on the ground but could doctor the ball with just about any substance). He writes about the socioeconomic factors that brought so many Irish immigrants to American shores and notes how they found baseball one of the few places that (grudgingly) accepted rather than excluded them. By the 1880s about 40 percent of players were Irish. The author leaps back to the 1870s and the first professional league, then advances decade by decade to the present. Some famous names from diamond (and cultural) history emerge along the way--the evangelist Billy Sunday gave the game a whirl, and was slugger Mike "King" Kelly the source for "Casey at the Bat"? By the 1890s some future deities on baseball's Olympus had appeared, John McGraw, Connie Mack and Charles Comiskey among them. As the decades proceeded, the Irish influence waxed and waned and waxed again, and the author includes a number of interviews--oddly dull ones for the most part--with current players with Irish ancestry. Readers will no doubt enjoy the stories (most are quite brief) about the likes of Billy O'Hara (an outfielder who improved the techniques of throwing hand grenades), Joe McCarthy, Casey Stengel, umpire Jocko Conlan, Denny McClain and myriad others. As frothy as a ballpark beer.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062089885
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
02/28/2012
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Charley Rosen is the coauthor with Phil Jackson of the New York Times bestseller More Than Just a Game. He is the author of Bullpen Diaries and fifteen other sports books, and has written more than a hundred articles for publications such as the New York Times Book Review, Sport, Inside Sports, M, and Men's Journal.

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