Swinging for the bleachers

by Staff Reporter

This weekend will see the American game come to Clondalkin’s Corkagh Park when the Peter O’Malley Invitational Tournament takes place.

The event runs from July 12 to 14 in honour of Irish American Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Peter O’Malley, with teams representing the US Navy and the British Baseball League taking on the best baseball players in Ireland and an international team of all-stars in the tournament. A national youth baseball competition will also be held on Saturday, July 13.

Tournament organiser Mike Kindle explained Peter O’Malley’s influence on baseball in Ireland.

“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 is a really proud Irish guy. When he heard about us developing the sport and that we played our matches on rugby and football pitches, he said, ‘that’s enough!’

“He donated about $140,000 (€109,000) 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.”

The tournament will add an international element to Baseball Ireland’s traditional midsummer classic, which usually consists of games against a single touring side.

It will see two non-Irish teams – US Naval Team the Rota Blue Devils and British Baseball League champions Liverpool Trojans – 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.

“We’re hoping people will see it being played for the first time and get involved, or get their kids playing Little League.

“South Dublin County is the home of Irish baseball,” said Kindle, “and thanks to South Dublin County Council, 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.”

For more information, log on to baseballireland.com

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