|One of Ireland's national team players prepares to pitch towards home plate.|
We've been talking about it since we launched The Gathering Dublin last October and it looks like it's finally here: Baseball is kicking off in South Dublin! This month baseball teams from the US and UK will face off against the Irish National team in Clondalkin, Dublin, Ireland, to honour recent Irish American Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Peter O'Malley. The first Peter O'Malley Invitational Tournament will take place in the South Dublin County venue from July 12-14 will see teams representing the US Navy and the British Baseball League take on the best baseball players in Ireland and an international team of 'all-stars' in Baseball Ireland's contribution to the Gathering - Ireland's year-long festival celebrating what it means to be Irish.
Tournament organiser Mike Kindle explained the reason for the tournament's name, "Peter O'Malley's family used to own a team called the Los Angeles Dodgers. We got to know him in the early 90s when we were setting up the Irish Baseball League. He wanted to help the development of baseball in Ireland as he a really proud Irish guy. When he heard about us and developing the sport and that we played our matches on rugby and football pitches, he said, 'that’s enough!' He donated about 140,000 dollars for us to build the facility out in Corkagh Park. He’s a really lovely guy. He stays in constant contact with us with regard to keeping things going and you know, fighting the good fight for us in Irish America."
|Players from around the world will be competing in South Dublin 12-4th of July.|
The tournament will add an international element to Baseball Ireland's traditional midsummer classic, usually consisting of games against a single touring side, as it will see two non-Irish teams playing baseball in Dublin for the first time since 1946, when two American teams returning from service in Britain in WWII played an exhibition game in Croke Park. Kindle is hopeful the game's appeal can grow in Ireland. "Baseball is the second most widely played field sport on the planet, behind soccer, and there are approximately 120 countries that are affiliated with the International Baseball Federation and actively play internationally. We're hoping people will see it being played for the first time and get involved, or get their kids playing Little League. I mean who doesn't like to hit something with a bat? It’s the greatest feeling in the world!"
The teams competing at Corkagh Park will be the US Naval Team the Rota Blue Devils; British Baseball League champions the Liverpool Trojans; Los Barbaros, a team representing Venezuela, Mexico, Cuba, Canada, the USA, the UK, Korea, Japan, Brazil, Slovakia, Germany and other countries. The host team will be the Irish National Baseball Team, who will travel to Vienna, Austria for the European Championships after the tournament. A national youth baseball competition will also be held on Saturday 13th
"South Dublin County is the home of Irish Baseball," said Kindle, "and thanks to South Dublin County Council, Leader, our main sponsors SoftCo and all the Irish companies who are supporting the tournament, it's going to be home to a festival of sport and fun for all the family."