upstairs as well as down, seamstresses and, in some cases, managers of the household. They were to make a positive impact on those for whom they worked and, by doing so, contributed mightily to the enhancement of their own community.
What of that community in the 1870's and 1880's? It was still a grim one. The Cuyahoga, which flowed through the heart of Irishtown, became so polluted from the discharge of 25 sewers and the waste products of adjoining factories and oil refineries that the city health authorities formally protested its despoilment. The mayor, R.R. Herrick, called it "an open sewer through the center of the city." Precious little was done, however, in the way of cleaning it up, and the Irish had to become accustomed to the smell,
Irishtown at this time was a maze of cobblestone streets, huge piles of red ore and golden grain, and over it all wafted the smell of tarred hawsers and oakum. Factories a@ mills of every size and description hugged both banks of the Cuyahoga, and shanties had been erected up the hill all the way to St. Malachi's Church, which served as a beacon of guidance to both ships and men.
Cleveland Irish in Baseball
A strange thing happened in the 1870's in Irishtown that aided several score of its inhabitants to escape ghetto .....
existense and see how the other half lived. It was a game called baseball, which had come into vogue after the Civil War and caught hold in Cleveland in the years shortly thereafter. A professional team was formed hereabouts called the Forest Citys, and, no doubt because a shillelagh was involved, the Irish took to it with a passion. In no time every brick-strewn lot in Irishtown was literally turned into a diamond in the rough.
While every Cleveland Irishman is acquainted with the feats of Paddy Livingston, who caught for 17 years in the major leagues, 11 with the Clevelands, not many realize that scores of Irishmen played professional baseball from the 1870's well into the 20th Century. The pay certainly wasn't good, but the fringe benefits, such as traveling about the country, sometimes as far west as St. Louis, and fairly good food, more than made up for the absence of money. Most important of all, baseball allowed the Irishman a chance to gain hero status, despite his national origin. He was accepted and it sure beat shoveling ore out of a boat.
The team representing Cleveland in the National Professional Baseball League in 1878, for instance, had six Irishmen in its starting lineup. 'Big Jim' McCormick was the premier pitcher and his fast balls were caught by one Barney Gillgan, who was described in one journal of the day as being "quick as a cat." William Philips played first base, Tom Carey was at shortstop, William Reiley played left field and 'Doc' Kennedy was in right.
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