Irish Baseball History: Ireland’s First Little League Baseball Team Comes to America

The story of how Ireland's first Little League Baseball team started in the early 1990s.

Roughly three decades after Clive Butterworth brought baseball to Dublin, America’s national pastime returned to Dublin in the early 1990s. This time, the game began with a group of kids playing pickup games in Skerries.

Within a couple of years, an Irish Little League team was on its way to America!

So, how did baseball make a triumphant return to Ireland?

Dublin… Ohio?

When New York businessman Gary Tully was approached about relocating to Dublin, he had no idea what he was in for. In fact, Gary thought he was being asked to go to Dublin, Ohio!

He said, “Look I’ve been told to ask you if you want to take over Chubb’s operations in Dublin. And I thought he meant Dublin, Ohio.” – Gary Tully

Meanwhile, in Skerries…

As Gary Tully was preparing to move his family to Ireland, a young architect named Barry Sheehan had stumbled upon a group of kids playing baseball in Skerries, just north of Dublin.

“I was in the local sports shop and i saw someone was selling little league bats. And i thought, “Who’s selling Little League bats?” – Barry Sheehan

Getting the Ball Rolling

Soon after arriving in Ireland, Gary and his son found their way to the baseball team in Skerries, where they met Barry and other volunteers. Together, they began working on building a small youth baseball league in the area. Before long, Ireland’s first official Little League team was formed!

1994: Ireland’s First Little League Team Visits America

With Ireland’s first Little League program well underway, Gary, Barry, and John Keys decided to take a giant step forward by bringing a team to New York!

Tryouts were attended by over 100 players and the roster of selected players included representatives from each team in the area. Over several weeks, the team practices in preparation for their trip to America.

With the team assembled and fully prepared, it was time for a grand sendoff! Ambassador Gene Kennedy Smith hosted a reception for the kids and families at the embassy. The event made the front page of the Irish Times!

Arriving in America

Upon arriving in the States, the Irish Little Leaguers played and traveled throughout the NY Tri-State area, with games in Breezy Point, Rockville Center, and Berkeley Heights, New Jersey. Along the way, players stayed with host families, creating a camaraderie between players and families.

“It was really one of the most special things I’ve ever been involved with and one of the most special things I’ve ever done,” – Gary Tully

Shea Stadium, City Hall, and the Hall of Fame

In addition to the games, the team got a chance to visit Shea Stadium and meet the Mets manager, Dallas Green. Along the way, they also met New York City Mayor, Rudy Giuliani.

“The kids names were all put on the on the board. It was really fantastic.” – Barry Sheehan

After a successful run through the metro New York City area, the team traveled north to Cooperstown, NY, home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

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