by Baseball Ireland
The first Peter O’Malley International Invitational Baseball Tournament will be played at Corkagh Demesne Park in Clondalkin, Dublin, Ireland from July 12-14. Named for Peter O’Malley, president of the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1970-1998, the four-team tournament features the host Irish National Baseball Team, Rota Blue Devils, representing the United States Navy, British Baseball League entrant Liverpool Trojans and Los Barbaros, a team comprised of international players who have traveled from all over the world to compete in the tournament.
The tournament is Baseball Ireland’s contribution to “The Gathering Ireland 2013,” a year-long celebration of all things Irish – culture, tradition, sport and fun. Three games will be played on Friday, July 12, three games on Saturday, July 13, with the third-place and championship games set for Sunday, July 14.
“It is an honor and privilege to return to Ireland for this special baseball tournament and I salute the organizers for putting it together,” said O’Malley, who will be throwing out the first ball. “Baseball in Ireland continues to grow and succeed with about 250 youth players around the island. The success of the Irish National team has generated interest in the game and it is gratifying that there are more fields being developed.”
The international tournament is named for O’Malley, who is a friend and significant contributor to the success of baseball in Ireland, according to Mike Kindle, president of Baseball Ireland.
“We are very excited to have Peter O’Malley return to the site of O’Malley and Dodger Fields, which he built in 1998,” said Kindle. “We appreciate Peter’s generosity and foresight in helping baseball to grow in Ireland. The fields he built for youth (O’Malley Little League) and adults (Dodger Baseball) have touched many lives in the past 15 years. Peter is in constant contact with us and is very interested in the development of baseball in Ireland and indeed, the world.”
O’Malley had previously privately built fields in two countries – “Dodger Baseball Field” in Tianjin, People’s Republic of China in 1986 and “Little League Friendship Field” in Managua, Nicaragua in 1992. He also privately built what was considered a leader in the field, a state-of-the-art baseball academy “Campo Las Palmas” near Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.
O’Malley’s first meeting with the Irish Baseball and Softball Association (which was founded in 1989) was in 1994, with the goal of getting more people involved with the game.
By July 4, 1998, two fields built strictly for baseball were dedicated at Corkagh Park – a regulation-sized adult field (Dodger Baseball Field) and an international standard Little League field (O’Malley Little League Field), which serve as the centerpiece of baseball in Ireland and have been used continuously for adult and youth regular season and international games.
At the time of dedication, O’Malley said, “In the past, children have been playing baseball on corners of rugby and soccer fields in Ireland, frequently being asked to relocate during the game. Now the children and families of Dublin have their own field of dreams to enjoy the game of baseball uninterrupted.”
The tournament will add an international element to Baseball Ireland’s traditional midsummer classic, usually consisting of games against a single touring side, as it will see two non-Irish teams 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 and actively play internationally. We’re hoping people will see it being played for the first time and get involved, or get their kids playing Little League. I mean, who doesn’t like to hit something with a bat? It’s the greatest feeling in the world!”
“South Dublin County is the home of Irish Baseball,” said Kindle, “and thanks to South Dublin County Council, our main sponsors SoftCo and of course, Peter O’Malley, it’s going to be home to a festival of sport and fun for all the family.”