Washington Nationals Return to Irish Roots
By Olivia O’Mahony, Editorial Assistant
June / July 2017
Irish ambassador to the U.S. Anne Anderson joined the Washington Nationals baseball team at their home field of Nationals Park in May for Irish American Heritage Day, throwing out the first pitch of the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Before making the pitch, Anderson celebrated the stadium’s inaugural Irish Heritage evening alongside the team, which has always boasted a strong Irish American presence, with 1,100 of its players between 1871 and 1920 being of Irish stock. Traditional Irish food and whiskey were served before game, and a musical selection was performed by the D.C. Fire Department Pipe and Drums band, the Capital Celtic Irish band, and the Culkin School of Irish dancers. Dublin tenor Mark Forrest was present to sing the Irish national anthem for all gathered.
Anderson’s pitch marks a recent development in the long legacy already existing between Irish people and the great American pastime since its genesis over 130 years ago. More than two dozen Irish American men, the sons of potato famine migrants of the 1850s, are remembered in the 1880 – 1920 section of the Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame for their achievements in the game. It has been estimated that more than 40 percent of all major league players during this era were of Irish heritage. ♦