Irish Media Nation by John Lee
Baseball’s debt to a Gaelic game: learning about the GAA during the ALCS
Posted on Monday, October 11, 2010 at 04:27 PM
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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.
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