Something remarkable happened last week on Thursday, June 16, 2016 — Joyce hit a homerun on Bloomsday.
It wasn’t James, but Matt Joyce of the Pittsburgh Pirates who hit his 100th career homerun against the Mets at Citi Field in New York. When I relayed this juicy piece of serendipitous trivia to my editor his response was swift: “Who was the pitcher? Josh Beckett?”
No, it wasn’t Josh Beckett, but the “Big Sexy” of the Mets, Bartolo Colon. But the questions sparked inspiration—who would be on the Irish Literary/Political All-Star team? All you have to do is have the same last name as a famous Irish writer or political figure—and spelling doesn’t count.
OWNER: Frank McCourt is the erstwhile owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Fans of "Angela’s Ashes" often refers to the Dodgers’ McCourt as “the bad Frank McCourt,” never to be confused with the beloved, “Blessed,” Pulitzer Prize-winning Frank McCourt.
MANAGER: This would have to be Terry Collins of the National League Champion New York Mets. Like his namesake, Michael Collins, he is a supreme handler of men, a man of keen intelligence, someone you would want to have on your side during a shootout, and a man adept at negotiating, in this case, with umpires.
UMPIRE: Behind the plate would be no other than Jim Joyce, one of the best umps in the game, now in his 29th year of umpiring in the major leagues. Joyce is definitive, even when wrong—he cost Armando Galarraga a no-hitter with a bad call back in 2010—which helped usher in replay in baseball. Like the other James Joyce, he is swift to call you “out.”
PITCHERS: First up has to be Josh Beckett, who was known for his stamina. When the manager would come to the mound to talk strategy, the conversation would go like this, ala Samuel Beckett: “You must go on. I can’t go on. You must go on. I’ll go on. I can’t go on. I must go on!”
Bob Shaw pitched for the White Sox, Giants and Mets and was known to have an affinity for applying salvia to the ball. Without his spitball he was mediocre, but with it he was great. Obviously inspired by George Bernard Shaw’s "Man and Superman."
Billy Swift was a well-traveled right-handed pitcher over his 13-year career, playing for Seattle, San Francisco, Colorado, then back to Seattle. He was obviously familiar with Dean Swift’s "Gulliver’s Travels."
Billy Pierce, a cunning southpaw for the White Sox and San Francisco Giants, didn’t have a brother named Willie, but like educator Patrick Pearse, he knew how to school hitters.
Mickey McDermott was a sly southpaw who once won 18 games for the Boston Red Sox. Like 1916 martyr Seán MacDiarmada, he knew the importance of stealth and having a sneaky fastball.
Andrew Heaney, pitcher for the Angels, will have a lot to live up to if he wants to emulate Archpoet, “Nobel” Seamus Heaney.
Out of the bullpen would be Bobby Parnell, the former Mets pitcher now with the Tigers, whose 100 MPH fastball has the same overhand delivery that Charles Stewart Parnell displays on the top of his monument in O’Connell Street as he throws a high-hard-one at the British.
CATCHER: Top notch author Colum McCann would never be accused of being ignorant, but he obviously inspired catchers Brian McCann of the Yankees and James McCann of the Tigers to don baseball’s “Tools of Ignorance.”
Mike Fitzgerald was a journeyman for the Mets and Expos. He was a steady performer who unlike United Irishman Edward Fitzgerald would never “lord” it over you.
Eamon de Valera must have inspired career minor league catcher Yohanny Valera. Both probably belonged in the bullpen.
Former Yankee catcher John Flaherty, liked to chat up umpires, but unlike Liam O’Flaherty he would never “inform” on them.
1st BASE: Sean Casey, the former Cincinnati Reds first baseman, unlike his playwriting Dublin cousin Sean O'Casey, this O’Casey refrained from digging ditches, but was known to dig in at the plate.
2nd BASE: Daniel Murphy, now with the Washington Nationals, led the Mets to the World Series in 2015 with an insane post-season. He obviously is a great fan of Irish playwright Tom Murphy’s "Too Late for Logic."
Danny O’Connell was a steady second-sacker for the Braves and Giants in the 1950s. Only a lifetime .260 hitter, he’ll never have a street named after him, unlike Irish hero Daniel O'Connell.
SHORTSTOP: the Cubs Addison Russell is as steady in the field as George (AE) Russell was on the literary front. (Joyce once borrowed money from Russell and noted: “AEIOU.”)
3rd BASE: Travis Shaw of the Boston Red Sox is known for his strong arm as recommended by G.B. Shaw in "Arms and the Man."
Al Yates came up in the Mets farm system and played for the Milwaukee Brewers in 1971. There was no rhyme or reason to why he wasn’t more successful like W.B. Yeats.
Dale Murphy is another protégé of playwright Tom Murphy. Dale played on some awful Atlanta Brave teams and is obviously familiar with Murphy’s "Famine."
Peter O’Brien of the Diamondbacks is just a rookie and makes a salary of $507,500. Unlike Flann O’Brien’s "An Béal Bocht," you won’t hear O’Brien “poor mouthing” his MLB salary.
Dermot McEvoy is the author of the "The 13th Apostle: A Novel of a Dublin Family, Michael Collins, and the Irish Uprising and Irish Miscellany" (Skyhorse Publishing). He may be reached at [email protected] Follow him at www.dermotmcevoy.com. Follow The 13th Apostle on Facebook.