The Irish and the Making of American Sport, 1835–1920


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About the Book

Jerrold Casway coined the phrase “The Emerald Age of Baseball” to describe the 1890s, when so many Irish names dominated teams’ rosters. But one can easily agree—and expand—that the period from the mid–1830s well into the first decade of the 20th century and assign the term to American sports in general. This book covers the Irish sportsman from the arrival of James “Deaf” Burke in 1836 through to Jack B. Kelly’s rejection by Henley regatta and his subsequent gold medal at the 1920 Olympics. It avoids recounting the various victories and defeats of the Irish sportsman, seeking instead to deal with the complex interaction that he had with alcohol, gambling and Sunday leisure: pleasures that were banned in most of America at some time or other between 1836 and 1920. This book also covers the Irish sportsman’s close relations with politicians, his role in labor relations, his violent lifestyle—and by contrast—his participation in bringing respectability to sport. It also deals with native Irish sports in America, the part played by the Irish in “Team USA’s” initial international sporting ventures, and in the making and breaking of amateurism within sport.

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, United Kingdom.

Bibliographic Details

Patrick R. Redmond
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 480
Bibliographic Info: 40 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2014
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7553-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0584-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Preface 1
1. The Millers—The Irish Sportsman’s Road to America 5
2. The Shanty—The Irish-Born Sportsman in America 13
3. The Clamor—The Irish Sportsman in the Big City and Small Town 34
4. The Joint—The Irish Sportsman and Alcohol 60
5. Racketeers and Suckers—The Irish Sportsman and Gambling 84
6. The Heeler—The Irish Sportsman and Politics 104
7. The Crank—The Irish and Fan Culture 131
8. Buccaneers—The Irish Sportsman and Fighting the Law 157
9. Big Shots—The Irish and Sporting Management 176
10. Sluggers—The Irish Sportsman and Violence 204
11. Swells—The Irish Sportsman and Respectability 237
12. Cronies—The Irish Sportsman and Irish Identity 260
13. Ballyhoo—Irish Sports and Games in the United States 288
14. Skedaddle—The Irish Sportsman and International Competition 316
15. Squares—The Irish Sportsman and Amateurism 347
16. So long—Epilogue 381
Notes 393
Bibliography 437
Index 451

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “A standout piece of scholarship…valuable contribution to Irish sport history scholarship”–Irish Economic and Social History
  • “Well-researched”–Newsday.