Baseball in Ireland, in the 19th Century!

Well, here’s a fascinating update to my recent post about baseball in Ireland in 1965. Turns out, Albert Spalding brought his world tours to Dublin and Belfast in 1874 and 1889. This info comes from an email I received from Warren Campbell.

Harry Wright, who had managed the Red Stockings, moved to Boston and worked to organize the first professional league, the National Association. He signed players for his own team, including Spalding, Ross Barnes, and Fred Cone from Rockford. Wright was an important formative influence on Spalding, imparting organizational skills to the young man. In 1874 he sent Spalding to England to organize the first foreign tour by American baseball players. The participants were players from the Boston and Athletic clubs. They departed July 16, arriving at Liverpool on the 27th. In addition to Liverpool they played games at Manchester, London, Sheffield, and Dublin. 

Source: SABR

And again in 1889:

They crossed the Channel that evening, playing in London (before Edward, Prince of Wales) and other British cities, as well as Glasgow, Belfast, and Dublin.

Source: SABR

Warren sent me this link to the boxscores from some of the games on the 1874 tour. While there are no boxscores from the games in Ireland, there is information on Chas McCarthy’s return to Cavan:

As stated by Chas McCarthy, “The notations for Tuesday the 25 are of great interest to us descendents. Oral family history has him returning triumphantly to his hometown, Cavan, as both an American “champion” ballist and as a native-born Irishman, survivor of the Great Hunger (or Famine) who had battered the English cricket champions silly at their own game. His notes are not particularly helpful in resolving the ambiguities”:

“Tuesday 25. Stopped at the Farnham Arms Hotel, Cavan. Made 26 runs in cricket against the Irish Eleven. Beaten By the Athletics.”

Only about 1,500 spectators combined to attend the two games in Dublin.

Source: 19th century baseball

Of course, baseball didn’t start to take root in Ireland for roughly 100 years: