The Irish-American Athletic Club of New York

The Rise and Fall of the Winged Fists, 1898–1917


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About the Book

At the turn of the 20th century, track and field in the U.S. was the domain of the wealthy. While baseball and prize-fighting attracted athletes from the lower orders of society, athletic clubs generally recruited the top sporting graduates from private colleges—except one. New York’s Irish-American Athletic Club was founded by and for immigrants. Membership was not exclusively Irish—Jews, African Americans, Scandinavians, Italians, and even a handful of Englishmen joined the club, which dominated local and national athletics for more than a decade. The I-AAC laid claim to the title of best athletic club in the world following the 1908 Olympic Games, bent the rules on amateurism and challenged the ban on Sunday entertainments before succumbing to aftereffects of World War I and Prohibition.

About the Author(s)

Patrick R. Redmond has written for the BBC and London newspapers Irish World and Irish Post. He lives just outside of London.

Bibliographic Details

Patrick R. Redmond

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 306
Bibliographic Info: 32 photos, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2018
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7239-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3162-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Preface 1
1. The “staid” and the “poor man’s” Athletic Clubs 7
2. “For the encouragement of manly sports and exercises … of the ­Irish-American Athlete”: The First and Second ­I-AAC 15
3. “The ‘Mecca’ of attraction for every proud son and fair daughter of Erin”: The Building of Celtic Park 21
4. “Our name is the ­Irish-American Athletic Club”: The ­I-AAC and Other Ethnicities 36
5. “An overwhelming success numerically and financially”: Establishing the GNYIAA Between 1898 and 1904 51
6. “A roistering carefree set of hellions”: The Irish Immigrant Athlete and the ­I-AAC 64
7. “The banner organization of the United States”: St. Louis and Onwards, 1904–1906 74
8. “The social element in Clubs is like ‘dry rot’”: Snobbery and the American Athletic Club 88
9. “The first, if not the foremost, athletic club in the world”: The ­I-AAC Between 1906 and 1908 100
10. “If you see an Irish head, hit it”: The ­I-AAC and Accusations of Professionalism 118
11. “You carry the Stars and Stripes proudly!” The ­I-AAC Athletes at the 1908 Olympics 137
12. “Blood stirred by its games and sports”: The ­I-AAC and Promoting Irish Sport and Identity in America 158
13. “Condemned for wholesale proselyting”: The ­I-AAC Growth Between 1908 and 1912 168
14. “Such shameful spectacles would never be permitted in pious New York”: The ­I-AAC: Policemen, Politicians and Sabbatarians 187
15. “In spite of depressing conditions”: The Beginning of the End of the ­I-AAC (1912–1916) 206
16. “Service first, athletics afterward”: The ­I-AAC Finally Closes 230
17. “Perhaps we shall again see the day” 244
Glossary of Athletic Events 253
Appendix: Irish-American Athletic Club Team Honors 257
Chapter Notes 258
Bibliography 279
Index 283