Hibernian Brother Seán Thomas Kane, of the Fr. Bernard Donnelly Division, gave an entertaining talk at the Kansas City Irish Fest over the Labor Day weekend. The presentation highlighted the 48 Irish immigrants who have played in Major League Baseball since the 1870s. Kane focused his lecture on some of the more colorful Irish-born players.
Ed Duffy, in 1871, became the first Irish immigrant to play professional baseball. Hugh Daily, one of the top professional pitchers of the 1880s, threw 483 strikeouts in one season, including 19 in one game. On the other side of baseball notoriety, Joe Cleary holds the record for the highest Earned Run Average for any pitcher. The Cork native in his one major league game recorded an ERA of 189.0. That was in 1945, and it was 67 years before the next Irish-born player was seen in another major league game.
Brother Kane discussed local Kansas City baseball history, including two of the city’s pre-Royals’ professional teams: the Kansas City Cowboys (1880s) and the Kansas City Athletics (1955-1967). Local Irish baseball players Barney and Frank McLaughlin played for the Cowboys during the 1884 season. Currently, there is only one Irish-born professional player, Belfast native P.J. Conlon, who pitches for the New York Mets’ AAA team the Las Vegas 51s.
An Irish Cultural Tent is always a part of the annual Kansas City Irish Fest, held at Crown Center in downtown Kansas City every Labor Day weekend. Seán has frequently contributed to these cultural workshops, making presentations on other aspects of Irish history and culture. Seán is earning his master’s degree in history at the University of Missouri–Kansas City where he is studying the Renaissance and Early Modern European history. Seán is also a published author. His latest book, Erasmus Plumwood is available on Amazon.