Back in the late 1990s the Boston Globe ran an article about the Red Sox and then General Manager Dan Duquette, in which he somewhat flippantly suggested he would like to play an exhibition game in Dublin, Ireland someday. The journalist went on to suggest that if the Red Sox were to ever field an Irish born player that they would literally have to rebuild Fenway to fit the extra fans in.
Baseball Ireland is still a long way away from providing that player, however it is taking one little step closer towards that eventual goal, of fielding an Irish born and raised player in Major League Baseball.
14 year old Liam Shier, from County Meath in Ireland will be traveling to the States later this July as part of an initiative organized by Baseball Ireland and The Baseball United Foundation. Liam will spend one week in New York and Rhode Island. He will play in a few games and train at baseball camps in the Northeast. The feature part of his trip will be taking part in the Hardball NY Summer Baseball Academy at Mercy College, on July 24 and 25
The Baseball United Foundation, run by John Fitzgerald (Creator of "The Emerald Diamond," a documentary on Baseball in Ireland) describes Liam’s participation as; ‘’(Liam taking part) in the camp is part of the Baseball United Foundation’s Player Exchange Program, which brings talented international youth baseball players to America, to help them learn the game through advanced instruction from professionals.’’
His participation in these events is a direct result of collaboration between Baseball Ireland and Baseball United, with a lot of work being put in by John and senior members of Baseball Ireland.
Liam is already playing in the Irish baseball league, and he’s been playing baseball since he was 9 years old. Liam was identified as one of the brighter talents of baseball clinics run in Ireland, organized by the Baseball United Foundation in conjunction with the Baseball Miracles group, led by Chicago White Sox scout John Tumminia and former MLB pitcher Rob Bell
Liam is of course just the tip of the iceberg, with a renewed focus on Youth baseball in Ireland producing new teams and players as the Irish Baseball League continues to develop since its inception in 1997. Baseball is very much a minority sport in Ireland, and struggles to compete against the bigger sports without recognition or sufficient funding from sporting bodies in Ireland.
The league continues to grow, however, and players like Liam show that the development is a tangible, exciting process.
For more on Baseball Ireland visit the official site here.
For more on the Baseball United Foundation visit here.