I discovered Greystones Mariners Baseball club by accident. I was just off the Greystones Dart one evening when I caught a glimpse of kids playing some game in Burnaby Park. Hey – is that baseball? Surely not – maybe it was rounders or cricket? So I crossed the road and there it was – 2 teams of scruffy kids wearing Dodgers and Giants T shirts actually playing baseball….and with proper gear and everything. In Ireland! Within a week my kids Hugh & Jojo were down at the park!
Thinking back to those early days in the Park, its’ a miracle that we didn’t kill or maim any passers-by! A few buses had a lucky escape! We also had the services of Duke the dog who would find any balls that got lost in the bushes. He saved us a fortune! It shouldn’t work – but it did. And that’s what Mariners Baseball is all about – against all the odds it somehow works.
I’ve only ever been involved with the Youth section, but with deference to my Senior Baseball friends, that’s always been the heart of this club. 25 years ago, as the legend says, Paul Murray came back from California and had a crazy idea to start a baseball club in Greystones. Baseball was part of the Greystones Summer Project that year and the mad idea took off. The Youth Section has run teams from 5 year olds to 16 year olds across T Ball, Coach Pitch, Little League and Cadets. Most years 80 kids have been playing. Many have graduated right through to the Senior Team and even into the Irish National Team. That’s a unique story – I just wish more Senior Clubs would put in the effort to have Youth Teams.
The success of the Youth Section has been down to people. And people with the right attitude. I have to read out a role of honour here of Coaches, Parents and Volunteers who have made huge contributions to making the club flourish: First there’s Paul Murray, but also John Marcus who of course did great work developing the club and securing our Diamond at Charlesland Sports Park. Other honourable mentions go to Fergal O’Farrell, Con Crowley, Rory & Dierdre O’Riordan, Paul’s sister Siobhan, John and Aileen Mardirosian, Steve Coronella, David and Trish Howell, Mitch Eddy, Helen Aling, Anne White, Penny Byrne, my own Caroline, the Donnelly’s, the Farrells, the O’Rourke’s the Flynns…..I could go on & on!!! Greystones Baseball is a family thing!
We’ve had great support from the schools in the area and special mention goes to Anne Marie McKenna of St. Brigid’s who helped us down the years. She said to me once that some kids who for whatever reason were not into the teamsports of GAA, soccer, hockey or rugby, found something special in the Baseball. It’s a different game – a range of skills required, throwing, catching, hitting, running …plus some thinking! And not forgetting thanks to all the mums & dads, wives & partners who have generously given their time to the club. These are the touchline heroes of sunny evenings in the Park and freezing afternoons at Corkagh Park. Why is it always cold there?!
And as I said, it’s not just the effort of the people, it’s the attitude of the people in this club that makes it tick! This club is all about fun!! We may be crazy but on many occasions we’ve taken our best pitcher out of the line up in order to give the other team a chance. We won 3 Ireland Little League championships in a row but pretty much blew a 4thin the final by giving a sporting chance to the Galway Jays!
The Youth season has always been fun packed – from the new Season Open Day, to the Paddy’s Day Parade, to our Home Blitz and end of season BBQ. We’ve had great away trips to Blarney for the Cork Druids blitz and to Galway. Greystones youth teams have travelled to tournaments in places like Brighton and Holland. We’ve always partied – we’ve always had fun!
We’ve seen some fine players passing our way down the years (now I can only talk about the ones I coached!) Mark Tracy – MVP for Team Ireland on our Cadet trip to Holland a few years ago. John Ascough – a lad small in stature but huge in heart. I could say the same for Osas Ewansiha. And Adam Macko – okay he was pretty good before he played for us – he will probably be representing Canada at Senior Level soon.
Anyway, that’s enough from me. There are always challenges for the futurethat any club must face. More clubs, more leisure choices, less volunteer time….. Baseball shouldn’t really work at all, but it does!
I want to end by thanking the Mariners Club for giving me some great times and some great friendships and to wishing the club all the best for the future.
Let’s keep the fun going for another 25 years!