"The Emerald Diamond" is a 90-minute documentary about the Irish National Baseball Team. The film's budget of $70,000 was financed on credit cards by first-time filmmaker John Fitzgerald.
Baseball has been played in Ireland since the early 1990s. The Irish National Team made its debut in the 1996 European Championships in England. Today, baseball is played throughout the country - the National Team is based in Dublin and youth baseball is played in Cork, Kerry, Port Stewart and Greystones.
The film debuted to a sold out crowd in New York on February 25, 2006 and has been seen in over 20 theaters across the country since then. It has been featured by The New York Times, New York Post, FoxNews, USA Today, Chicago Tribune and National Public Radio. The Emerald Diamond is now available on DVD.
Important Timecodes in this video:
0:00 - American Mike Kindle sees an Irish Softball Association bumpersticker while walking through Dublin in the early 1990s. The seeds for the Irish National Team is planted.
1:00 - Kindle assembles a ragtag group of Irish natives and American expatriates with little or no baseball experience. They teach themselves the rules and play on rugby and soccer fields in the rain. They have no uniforms and very little equipment.
4:00 - Ireland competes in the 1996 European Championships where they will be destroyed by teams with sketchy baseball pedigrees, including the Czech Republic,Norway, Poland and Lithuania.
6:00 - The first hit in Irish National Team history was by Gus Hernandez - a Mexican who gained Irish citizenship by marrying an Irish woman. Hernandez is immediately picked off first base and the Irish lose their first game by a score of 23-2.
11:30 - Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley donates hundreds of thousands of dollars to build the first real baseball fields in Ireland.
18:00 - The Irish head to the European Championships with a new player from New York. The team loses all of its luggage during a connecting flight. They appear at the Opening Ceremonies in T-shirts and shorts.
24:30 - After losing their first 3 games at the 2000 Euros, the Irish get drunk at the field the night before a game. They somehow win the next morning's game, their only victory of the tournament.
30:15 - The Irish National Team visits Fenway Park for an exhibition game against a local amateur team.
31:40 - A group of Cubans defects to Ireland and finds their way to the baseball fields that were built by Peter O'Malley.
35:35 - A look at baseball in Belfast, Northern Ireland, including a story about how Kindle and his Irish teammates accidentally drove into a Protestant parade and were interrogated by the police for being in the wrong place in uniforms with weapons (baseball bats).
41:00 - A group of Americans try to teach baseball to Irish kids in County Cork and Dublin.
The New York Times
"Fitzgerald's movie is a charming look at how baseball captivated some dedicated Irishmen... Think of Rudy, the Notre Dame walk-on, and multiply it by about a dozen."
"A Whole New Ballgame in Ireland" by Jack Curry
February 10, 2006
The New York Post
"A terrific film!"
"Irish Have Own Field of Dreams" by Kevin Kernan
February 27, 2006
National Public Radio
"A tale of perseverance salted with humor and irrigated with beer."
"Only a Game" review by Bill Littlefield
March 9, 2006
Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Remarkable baseball story!"
"Begosh and Begorrah! It's Irish Baseball!"
March 16, 2006
The Irish Echo
"Pitching an Emerald" by Fiona Walsh
March 17, 2006
"Heart-lifting doc that tracks the incredibly earnest players as they grow from lovable losers into genuine contenders."
Review by Christopher Lloyd
“The Emerald Diamond” restores the innocence of the sport for 90 wonderful minutes, easily ranking as one of the best documentaries I’ve seen this year. The Irish National Baseball Team, much like other countries currently building their clubs, is where the heart of the game lies today. I highly recommend this opportunity to live the dream with these hard-working men and their amazing journey.
"Top o' the batting order to ya!" by Brian Orndorff
January 5, 2007
"Heartwarming... In a baseball town like Chicago, the story, told from the players' perspectives along with footage from actual games, illustrates how the love of sport can cross borders (whether country or cross-town) and forge relationships."
At Beverly Fest, every seat's on the Emerald Isle by Janine Schaults
March 2, 2007
Time Out Chicago
"Quite charming...Fitzgerald understands, as do the players, that this story has to be told with a sense of humor—during one particularly humiliating outing at a European competition, the team decided to stop obsessing, went out the night before a game and got blitzed, and played better baseball as a result. The film captures the players’ blend of wry self-deprecation and genuine pride. Sounds pretty Irish to us."
"Dublin Your Pleasure" by Hank Sartin
Issue 105, March 1-7, 2007
On November 12, 2006, "The Emerald Diamond" won the Critic's Choice Award at the National Baseball Hall of Fame Film Festival in Cooperstown, NY. The award was selected and presented by film critic Jeffrey Lyons. Click here to see a video of the festival awards ceremony.
ABOUT JOHN FITZGERALD
Producer/Director John Fitzgerald is currently working on "Playing for Peanuts - a new TV show about minor league baseball.