Foley’s NY: Part 4A
by John Delach
The Irish American Baseball Hall of Fame
On a spring day in 2010 Mike and I grabbed onto one of those vertical baseball bats to enter Foley’s for lunch. Curiously, we found the bar to be empty while the dining room looked packed alerting us that something was going on. As we reached the hostess’ station, Kathy stopped us and asked, “What are you doing here? Don’t you know this is a private event?”
Obviously, we were clueless. “Kathy, we just came in to have lunch.” One of us blabbered.
Kathy was by now our friend who noted the disappointment we expressed. “Okay, let me get you a table away from the action. Please don’t draw attention to yourselves.”
She procured a table for two in the back corner of the dining room where we could watch the action without being intrusive. Serendipitously, we had crashed Shaun’s induction ceremony for the class of 2010 into the Irish-American Baseball Hal of Fame. (IAB HOF.) Attendance was by invitation only. We had discovered another of Shaun’s treasurers by sheer accident. .
Understand, Shaun loves baseball and Ireland. One of his ambitions is to marry these interests and his IAB HOF is a manifestation of this desire. This was his third induction ceremony and it had obviously taken off in popularity within the Major League Baseball community. Previous inductees included the legendry Connie Mack, actor, Kevin Costner, (Field of Dreams, among other baseball movies,) Tug McGraw, Arthur (Red) Foley, the New York sportswriter who was the namesake for Shaun’s saloon and legendary announcer, Vince Scully.
From our bleacher seats, we watched Shaun introduce the Class of 2010 that included Tim McCarver, the catcher extraordinaire and renown broadcaster and Brian Cashman, the NY Yankees general manager. We enjoyed the festivities and the ceremonies from our cheap seats being careful to remain invisible. The highlight of the day happened when Tim McCarver approached our table. “Say fellas, do me a favor and point me in the right direction for the men’s room.” McCarver made his request in the same voice and tone that he used for commenting on his NBC Game of the Week broadcasts.
Shaun noticed our behavior and began inviting us to future induction ceremonies. In time, he even directed us to sit at the same table with the inductees. Sometimes this didn’t work out like in 2015 when Bill Murray was a no show but there were others that were wonderful experiences.
My personal favorite was lunch with David Cone in 2014. Shaun had us arrive early and directed us to sit at our usual round table in the right-hand corner close to the mic. “Leave the seat facing away from the corner vacant for Coney and sit in the two seats on either side.” Shaun made it sound like we were to be Mr. Cone’s bodyguards and our size did afford him privacy if not protection.
Cone was a delightful lunch partner that day who regaled us with wonderful stories. Mike asked him about being a Red Sox – particularly a Yankees game at Fenway Park in 2001, David’s last year in baseball. “You were pitching for the Red Sox opposing Yankees’ starter, Mike Mussina. Mussina was pitching a perfect game and you had a shut out going into the ninth inning.”
David looked at Mike with a measure of excitement, smiled and picked up the conversation. “It could have been yesterday. Tino Martinez hit a single, but Jorge Posada popped up for the first out. Paul O’ Neill hit a perfect double-play grounder that should have ended the inning and my outing.”
Mike interjected, “But the Sox second baseman, Lou Merloni, whiffed on the play.”
“Correct,” David agreed smiling, while shaking his head. “Instead of getting out of the inning, I had runners at first and third with only one out.”
Mike asked, “I recall, Joe Kerrigan, the Red Sox manager came out of the dugout and asked you if you wanted to stay in the game?”
“Right you are Mike! You have a good memory. I told him what he wanted to hear, ‘leave me in.’ The last thing I wanted to do was give up the ball when I still had a shutout to protect.”
The next Yankee batter, Enrique Wilson, hit a double that scored Clay Bellinger who had replaced Martinez as a pinch runner.
Cone: “Kerrigan took me out of the game. I knew my career was almost over. This could have been my last hurrah, but Mike (Mussina) had a better day. What was utterly amazing was, as I neared the dugout, the Fenway sell-out crowd broke into a standing ovation.
“Guys, understand how amazing that was. 2001 was my only year on the team and I had pitched against their Sox with the Royals, the Blue Jays and, of course, their evil empire, the Yankees.
“What a thrill!”
“You tipped your hat to the crowd,” Mike replied.
“Yes, I did, they deserved that.”
I sat there mesmerized taking it all in. I’ve realized that professional athletes have a photographic memory of all their highs and lows. But David Cone’s responses to Mike Scott’s prompts were terrific.
All this dialogue took place over servings of cheeseburgers, fries and a couple rounds of Guinness.
For sure, for me and for Mike, the best Foley’s lunch, ever.