With the start of the World Series last night, the New York Mets big hitter Daniel Murphy is not just a new fan favorite amongst Irish-Americans. Following his record-breaking performance in helping the Mets reach the World Series last week, fans in Ireland have decided to use their Irish-American hero to promote the sport at home.
Yes, you read that correctly. Baseball in Ireland.
Baseball Ireland (the Irish Baseball & Softball Federation/IBSF) was founded in 1989 with the aim of growing baseball and softball at all levels and ages throughout Ireland.
The Irish National Baseball team entered its first international baseball competition in 1995 and they’ve fared well for a sport competing with the national GAA sports of football and hurling. The national team reached the quarter-final stage of the 1998 European Championships, winning a Bronze medal in the European B-Pool Championships held in August, 2004 in Regensburg, Germany and a Silver Medal at the 2006 European B-Pool Championships held in Antwerp, Belgium.
The organization also has more than 200 children playing baseball throughout the country. The new International Baseball Centre in Ashbourne, Co. Meath, opened just last August.
“When the Irish Baseball League started 20 years ago, it was almost all American ex-pats,” Peter Kavanagh, President of Baseball Ireland, told IrishCentral.
“Nowadays there are far more Irish players, as well as all the other baseball nations: Venezuela, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands and others. A lot of the Irish players and fans have been to the US on vacation or on a J-1 visa and fell in love with the game.”
“The cities with the biggest Irish populations have the biggest fan bases [in Ireland], so there are a lot of Red Sox fans, Giants fans, Phillies fans and, of course, Yankees and Mets fans.”
And now, they’re backing Daniel Murphy to hit as many home-runs as possible throughout the World Series to raise much needed funds to keep Irish baseball growing.
Establishing and maintaining new baseball teams in Ireland is an expensive business and Baseball Ireland need support to help overcome the shortage of baseball facilities and proper safety equipment (helmets, catcher's gear, gloves, etc.).
To do this, they’re putting Murphy’s Irish roots to good use in the “Daniel Murphy World Series Base Hit Pledge Drive” and asking all Mets and Murphy fans to help.
During the 2015 World Series, in collaboration with Baseball United Foundation, you can pledge to make a donation to Baseball Ireland’s youth programs for every hit Daniel Murphy gets. The minimum pledge is one dollar and the maximum is $20 so, as the World Series record for most hits is 13, you can expect to be pledging between $13 and $260. (Murphy is on fire, however. We apologize and take no responsibility if he smashes this record, too.)
“The Baseball United Foundation in New York have been great supporters of ours for years,” Kavanagh said, “and they decided to put the FUN into fundraiser for us this year, especially as the Mets are back in the Fall Classic.
“Any money raised will go towards building and maintaining facilities for youth baseball in Ireland. We have a small youth league, but equipment is so expensive over here. The sporting goods stores don't stock baseball equipment, so we need to raise money every year just to get bats, gloves and balls.”
The Irish love an underdog story and there’s no better man to encapsulate that then Murphy, the Florida-born 30-year-old who has gone from no-name to superhero in a short space of time. Last week he became the first to hit a homer six straight post-season games in a row in the Mets' victory over the Chicago Cubs.
“Daniel Murphy has spoken about his Irish heritage before and he's proud to be an Irish-American,” Kavanagh continued.
“When he went and set a postseason record, it made the headlines here in Ireland, where baseball is never mentioned on the news. It made sense for us to back his hot streak and have a little fun with our supporters.”
Irish baseball fans now need him to keep the momentum going and raise some much needed funds to support Irish baseball stars of the future.
The World Series began last night in Kansas City with the Royals hosting the Mets. And how Irish baseball fans think it will go?
“I think the Mets have a great chance, especially with their young rotation,” Kavanagh said. “If the Irish Hammer keeps his hot streak going, they'll be successful.
“Whatever happens, Daniel Murphy has won a whole bunch of new supporters for the Mets back in the old country.”
To support Irish baseball, Daniel Murphy, and the NY Mets throughout the World Series you can pledge your donation here - https://rallyup.com/daniel-murphy.
Let's Go Mets!