Famous baseball game by US sailors recreated in Cork

A baseball game which took place in Cork last night recreated a famous one held exactly 100 years ago by the US Navy who had arrived in the region as the vanguard for their country’s entry into the First World War.

Adrian Kelly of Baseball Ireland and Nicole Dehnel recreating the 1917 baseball picture at the Cricket grounds in Cork. Pics: Eddie O'Hare

The game, organised by UCC, took place at the Cork County Cricket Club grounds in the Mardyke.

A team of visiting US students, who are currently attending a summer camp at UCC, along with expats took on the ‘Cork Rebel Alliance’ to recreate a game which was played at exactly the same location as the one put on by crews from two US warships which were part of the American fleet that arrived in Cork harbour a century ago.

UCC curator Michael Holland, who organised last night’s event, said some of the proceeds would go to the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind charity.

Milligan from the Melville team hits a mighty stroke playing in the baseball match against Trippe at the Mardyke on July 25, 1917.

“The original match also raised money for a wartime charity so we thought it appropriate that we raise some cash for a local charity,” he said.

Mr Holland said it is hoped a plaque will be erected at the cricket grounds to commemorate the centenary of the game.

He said that while US Navy operations took priority, there were other things to be considered, like the morale of the sailors, making friends locally, and promoting the Navy’s contribution to the war effort.

Kristin Tocci, Alex Schmidt and Katie Wright palying for UCC All Americans at the Cricket grounds in Cork last night.

Suggested by Admiral Sims, teams were from the USS Melville, a destroyer depot ship, and the USS Trippe, which was one of the first six American destroyers to arrive in the harbour.

“Local newspapers kept the public informed of plans for the game, of a change in date [it was postponed by a week, because of rain], about the sport of baseball to a curious but largely unfamiliar public and, finally, reports of the game itself,” said Mr Holland.

The postponement seemed to increase interest in the game. A practice match staged during the delay by teams from USS McDougal and USS Wadsworth attracted a large crowd.

The baseball practice match in the Mardyke a few weeks before a big exhibition game between the two US warships.

“The afternoon of Wednesday, July 25, had beautiful weather and the event was a huge public success. Around 3,000 people attended including locals and members of the British and US navies,” said Mr Holland.

“The locals were very amused by the banter directed by the American spectators towards [and about] the players. They were also interested in the tactics of players during the game, the ‘base stealing’, and dramatic catches.”

The band of the 3rd battalion, the Leinster regiment, played a selection of music, finishing with the US and British national anthems.

USS Trippe took the winning point, finishing 7-6.

“The game was also a substantial financial success, raising £90 for the Cork War Workers’ Fund even before advertising was paid for,” said Mr Holland. “The success of the game can be gauged from the fact that other similar matches were held later, in Dublin, Belfast, and in London.”

Despite the fact that those games received more publicity, and would be better remembered by history, Cork can claim to have been first.

The Navy later created a sportsfield in Ringaskiddy, beside Ballybricken House, that included a baseball diamond. A baseball bat from Ballybricken can still be seen in Cobh Museum.



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