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Baseball’s debt to a Gaelic game: learning about the GAA during the ALCS

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How do say “Play Ball!” in Irish?

With the long baseball season finally segueing into the playoffs, I was using the time between pitches, while the batter wanders around adjusting himself, to wander around online, and just as the batter stepped back out of the box to start the adjustment process all over again, I surfed onto this internet factoid: “Baseball was probably derived from Rounders, a game played in Ireland since the fifteenth century.” I hate to admit it, but this was news to me…but not of course to the GAA.

This revelation came from a HuffingtonPost.com slideshow entitled “US History: 13 Myth-Busting Facts That Will Make You Rethink Everything You Know,” written by three guys from the endlessly diverting Mental Floss website (http://www.mentalfloss.com/). Myth #5 was “Baseball is Distinctly American” (http://huff.to/92Bz97). The post noted that by the 18th century, the Irish game of Rounders (Irish: cluiche corr) incorporated many of the basic elements of modern baseball and that starting in the 1820s Irish immigrants brought Rounders to America “where local variations developed.”

Had heard of Rounders and its role as a precursor to American Baseball, but never knew of the bat & ball game’s Irish origins. But I’m sure many Irish Central readers were way ahead of me--after all, along with Hurling, Gaelic Football and Handball, Rounders was one of the four original Gaelic Athletic Association sports.

Here’s a quick look at a GAA Rounders exhibition match held in Croke Park in 2009:




For more on Ireland’s “baseball” go to http://www.gaarounders.ie/. Variations on the Gaelic game are played in the UK as well, including a versions called British or Welsh Baseball (http://www.roundersengland.co.uk/, http://www.welshbaseball.co.uk/).

Found no more Celtic angles among the other busted myths in the HuffPo piece, but was fascinated by Myth #1: “There were 13 Colonies” and Myth #12: “During the Civil War, The South was unified in wanting to secede.” Worth a look.

Okay, back to the game. Hey, Looks like we’re finally ready for the next pitch.

MEDIA PINGS: Bizarre Media Note of the Day: Salon.com movie critic Andrew O'Hehir found Nazi imagery and sensibilities in the new Disney family flick “Secretariat,” writing “in its totality "Secretariat" is a work of creepy, half-hilarious master-race propaganda almost worthy of Leni Riefenstahl.” Roger Ebert then blogged that O’Hehir “has nevertheless written a review of "Secretariat" so bizarre I cannot allow it to pass unnoticed,” which O’Hehir then rebutted in his next column. Roger? This thing is going viral--Even Rush Limbaugh has weighed-in! (links: http://bit.ly/dwXyfK, http://bit.ly/bFLZzg, http://bit.ly/cAfQ6e, http://t.co/ijnypK9)…On a good day, Irish Finance Minister Brian Lenihan will be on the hot seat, given the enormity of the fiscal crisis he is trying to manage, but did he add fuel to the fire recently by putting the media on notice? While giving a positive spin to economic numbers during remarks on Sept. 24, he warned, “It is important for journalists to be aware of the self-fulfilling nature of doomsday scenarios. Media reports here at home are beamed around the world and can influence the decisions of foreign investors and multinationals.” (http://bit.ly/9oPRba, http://bit.ly/dgd8gX)…Music is in the mix for the Oct. 18 Eugene O’Neill Award Celebration in NYC honoring actor Brian Dennehy. A traditional Irish music quartet will play during the open-bar cocktail hour, the Leatherneck Pipes & Drums will call Marine Corps vet Dennehy to the dais and Ashley Davis will sing one of the honoree’s favorite Irish songs. For info & tickets go to http://www.iamwa.com/...Had a lot of fun with the previous post about the inventive video from Irish “hand dancers” Suzanne Cleary & Peter Harding from “Up & Over it” (http://bit.ly/beCua1). The day after I posted the story, the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and Urlesque also picked-up on it. When posted on here a month ago, the duo’s YouTube video had about 100,000 views; now views are up to 2,822,309 and counting. Then they had 2,113 Facebook fans; now they’re up to 10,015…And they aren’t the only avant garde Hibernian hoofers out there. Ex-Riverdancer Chris Naish reached out to me with news of an upcoming show called “Hammerstep” which is integrating Irish step, Tap, Hip Hop and comedy, performed by “World Champions, World Record holders and leads of Riverdance.” He’s also part of “Sneaky Steppers” (http://www.facebook.com/sneakysteppers), which is making dance ambush videos at New York landmarks, a guerrilla marketing technique that earned them a spot in a CBS US Open Tennis commercial. Here’s a look at the group in action:

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