“The Emerald Diamond is a must read. It is a remarkable story about the achievements of the Irish throughout the history of baseball in America.”
-Jay P. Dolan
New York Times bestselling sportswriter Charley Rosen, author of The Bullpen Diaries and More than Just a Game, delivers a one-of-a-kind instant classic perfect “for anyone who is Irish and loves baseball.”
The history of the Irish in baseball is much richer than anyone realizes. From early discrimination to later domination, from Mike Kelly, a society star in the 1880s, to the managerial fame of Connie Mack (né McGillicuddy), early Irish players and managers helped shape the game of baseball in every way. From the first curveball to the first players' unions, Irishmen took America's national pastime and made it their own, turning it into the glorious game we know today, as more recent players have kept alive the Irish tradition of setting records.
A wild, fun, fact-filled celebration of the Irish in baseball, The Emerald Diamond intersperses interviews with current players with tales of such players as Dan Brouthers, who at 6'2" and well over 200 pounds, was the game's home-run king until Babe Ruth came along; and includes lively anecdotes about such colorfully nicknamed ballplayers. Just a few of the great Irish athletes featured as well are Mickey Cochrane (for whom Mickey Mantle was named); Charles Comiskey; Ed Walsh, the last pitcher to win 40 games in a single season; and Ed Delahanty, whose prodigious life and mysterious death continue to be a source of intrigue.
With decade-by-decade profiles of exciting Irish figures on the field and off, The Emerald Diamond also offers important discussion on cultural and political themes relevant to their times.
FoxSports.com analyst Rosen (Bullpen Diaries) provides a virtual roll call of every Irish player who ever donned a professional baseball uniform, recounting statistics and exploits in exhaustive detail. Large numbers of immigrants, scant employment opportunities, and a hatred of all things English, such as cricket, contributed to Irish immigrants embracing baseball. The game helped them "assimilate into American life," and Rosen contends that it was primarily Irish players who "popularized and modernized the game" through the early 20th century. Rosen is heavy on statistics, but light on analysis. The result is a chronicle of achievements more than the case for recognition stated in the title. Innovations by Irish players include the development of pitcher/catcher communication, various defensive strategies, and shin guards for catchers, but those are overshadowed by the litany of batting averages and ERAs. More focus on the careers and present-day manifestation of the contributions and innovations of longtime managers such as Ned Hanlon and John McGraw would have pleased all baseball fans, Irish or not.