Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Greatest Moment in Dublin Hurricanes history; Number nine: The legend of Spencer Grace

The Dublin Hurricanes are one of Ireland's oldest and most successfull baseball clubs. They have won every award going in Irish baseball, they are the only Irish club side to have traveled several times to European Club competitions and their players have scooped many of the individual awards available to players in the Irish baseball league. In short, it has been a good twelve year run. The team’s core has largely remained the same, which makes the accomplishments and memories all the sweeter to those involved.

Cutting straight to the chase, over the next few days we will be revealing the Top Ten Dublin Hurricanes Baseball Club moments of all time (all time being 1997 – 2008). Hopefully you will join us for the ride, and while we look back at the memories, you the reader will get a good sense of what it means to play baseball for an Irish baseball club.

Straight to the list. Number nine.

The Greatest Moment in Dublin Hurricanes history; The legend of Spencer Grace

The ninth greatest moment in Hurricanes history centers around a chance meeting, a fleeting moment, and yet still describes beautifully the incredibly colourful, varied and vibrant nature of baseball in Ireland, in particular the variety of nations that make up the club sides in the Irish league.

Prior to the 2000 Irish league season Hurricanes captain Tom Kelley was in the student travel office in Trinity College, Dublin. Tommy was changing a flight. As he tells it now, he was also in ‘recruitment mode’, looking for potential new players for the ‘Canes. He struck up a conversation with a big American kid in the queue ahead of him. Sure enough, the kid played baseball. TK asked what position he played, and the kid, Spencer Grace, replied ‘I hit home runs.’

A legend was born.

Spencer went on to play part of two seasons with the Hurricanes, while also traveling with them for the 2003 European Club Championships held in Antwerp, Belgium. That was the first European Club tournament that any Irish team took part in. Spencer quite literally tore the tournament up, bashing five home runs in five games. For his first home run, Spencer squared the pitch up, swung hard and drove the ball towards the left field fence. The moment the ball left his batch he roared ‘Fly b****, fly!’ and the ball did exactly what it was told, clearing the fence with plenty to spare. This pretty much woke everyone up.

Spencer’s most dramatic home run of the tournament came against a powerful English club side, the Windsor Bears.

The Bears were one of the top teams in the UK. They would eventually contest the final against the hometown Eagles. Full of English and also Australian players, some ex internationals, they had a big and talented squad, and were looking to crush us into the ground early on. This became a pretty heated affair, with the British team showboating their way to yet another early lead. At one stage they led us 15-0 and it was rather painful to watch, not only for us on the field, but also for the locals, rooting for the under dog Irish Club.

Darran O’Connor came in between innings and told a couple of us that the English shortstop, in particular, was talking a lot of trash. He had told Darran that ‘Paddies can’t play baseball’, and to ‘go back to the Emerald Isle’. Pretty pathetic. That riled most of us up, particularly Spencer. Late in the game, with the English trying to shut us out, a pitch hit Darran. He limped down to first and up came Spencer. On the first pitch he saw he smashed his fourth home run of the tournament, a huge moon shot blast deep to centre field, clearing the tall outfield fence by a few feet.

The local crowd erupted, Spencer flipped his bat and trotted slowly around the bases, rubbing the British teams face in its own arrogance. The ten runs the ‘Canes scored from Spencer’s bomb on were the second most scored against the runner up Bears in that tournament. Spencer drove in five.

This isn’t just the story of how Spencer became a Hurricane. It is the story of how every varied, colourful, interesting individual who ended up in Irish baseball managed to find the game here on the Emerald Isle.

Lets all look at some pretty flags, each of which attached to a current or former Dublin Hurricane, you have to say, it is pretty impressive the number and variety of nations that have represented the ‘Canes down the years!
  • 13 Flag of Ireland Chris Foy
  • 20 Flag of the United States Steve Divito
  • 02 Flag of the United States Andy Martin
  • 00 Flag of the United States Eric 'Vegas' Valkys
  • 00 Flag of Japan Kazuma Ogata
  • 25 Flag of Venezuela Carlos Melesecca
  • 00 Flag of Japan Shota Yoshida
  • 00 Flag of Venezuela Rafael Diaz
  • 00 Flag of Cuba Tommy Hernandez
  • 00 Flag of Ireland Woody Woodburne
  • 00 Flag of the United States Jim Purcell
  • 00 Flag of the United States Emmett O'Shaughnessy
  • 00 Flag of Ireland Mick Manning
  • 00 Flag of Ireland Jim Kilbride
  • 00 Flag of the United States Dave Delucia
  • 00 Flag of Ireland Ken Murphy
  • 00 Flag of Ireland Ciaran Cupples
  • 00 Flag of the United States Jon Gast
  • 00 Flag of the United States Abby Thakore
  • 00 Flag of the United States Keith Masterson
  • 00 Flag of the United States Joe Micklich
  • 00 Flag of Ireland Mike Kindle
  • 00 Flag of Ireland Alan Lenehan
  • 00 Flag of Ireland Paul McGrath
  • 00 Flag of the Czech Republic Radek Prochazka
  • 00 Flag of the United States Eamon Slattery
  • 00 Flag of the United States Spencer Grace
  • 00 Flag of the United States Joe Hiltner
  • 00 Flag of the United States Olaf Sederstrom
  • 00 Flag of the Dominican Republic Nelson Brito
  • 00 Flag of the United States David McDermott
  • 00 Flag of the United States Lorcan Sherlock
  • 38 Flag of Ireland Tom Kelley
  • 00 Flag of Venezuela Alex Bettancourt
  • 00 Flag of Australia Luke Barkmeyer
  • 22 Flag of Ireland Cormac Eklof
  • 07 Flag of Ireland Garrett Pearse
  • 00 Flag of Japan Daisuke Inoue
  • 27 Flag of Ireland Gordon Ireland

The Greatest Moment in Dublin Hurricanes history

9. The legend of Spencer Grace
10.
Gordon Ireland's final at bat as a Hurricane

Baseball Ireland links

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

No hurricane love for Bam Bam?

Anonymous said...

Hey, What about the three 'speedy' pitchers covering the outfield in that tournament?? Not to mention one being barely able to walk!

EO

Irish National baseball team

Irish National baseball team
Team Ireland at the European Championships, Croatia, 2000.

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