The Emerald Diamond
The Emerald Diamond is a documentary following the history of Baseball Ireland and the Irish National Baseball team
Irish national baseball team
The Irish National Baseball Team has been in existence since 1996 and has taken part in several major baseball tournaments and tours. As in many other sports in Ireland, the team represents both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland....

. It was released in 2006.

Director John Fitzgerald financed the film almost entirely on credit cards while working freelance at various jobs in the TV and film industries. The film crew was made up of professionals from in and around Fitzgerald's hometown of Valhalla, NY, with each crew member coincidentally living in towns along the Metro North Railroad's Harlem Line - leading to the creation of Harlem Line Pictures.

Worldwide Screening Tour

Although the film received positive reviews from The New York Times, New York Post, Irish Echo and National Public Radio, Fitzgerald opted to release it immediately before receiving a traditional distribution deal. On February 25, 2006, "The Emerald Diamond" debuted to a sold out crowd of 250 people at the Jacob Burns Film Center
Jacob Burns film center
The Jacob Burns Film Center is a nonprofit cultural arts center located inPleasantville, NY. It occupies a moviehouse that was for many decades known as the Rome Theater.-External links:*...

 in New York. Among those in the crowd was Major League Baseball Executive Vice President Robert Manfred. Manfred was taken with the Irish National Team's story and promised to help the film and the team in any way he could. He arranged to have the film's trailer played at Shea Stadium
Shea Stadium
William A. Shea Municipal Stadium, usually shortened to Shea Stadium or just Shea , was a stadium in the New York City borough of Queens, in Flushing Meadows–Corona Park. It was the home baseball park of Major League Baseball's New York Mets from 1964 to 2008...

 (New York), Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, commonly called the Metrodome, is a domed sports stadium in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States. Opened in 1982, it replaced Metropolitan Stadium, which was on the current site of the Mall of America in Bloomington and Memorial Stadium on the University...

 (Minneapolis), and AT&T Park
AT&T Park
AT&T Park is a ballpark located in the South Beach neighborhood of San Francisco, California. Located at 24 Willie Mays Plaza, at the corner of Third and King Streets, it has served as the home of the San Francisco Giants of Major League Baseball since 2000....

 (San Francisco).

"The Emerald Diamond" was screened in theaters in 22 U.S. cities and two Irish cities, between February and August, 2006. Many of the U.S. screenings were sponsored by Irish heritage organizations, baseball museums or Irish-based vodka company Boru Vodka.

Film Festivals

The film received the Critic's Choice Award at the 2006 Baseball Film Festival at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. The award was selected and presented by film critic Jeffrey Lyons.

In February 2007, the Westchester County Film Festival rejected the film, citing several flaws with the film's story and editing. Fitzgerald countered by accusing the festival jurors of not watching the entire film while giving preferential treatment to films with connections to the festival. In an email exchange documented on Fitzgerald's blog
A blog is a type of website or part of a website supposed to be updated with new content from time to time. Blogs are usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in...

, festival director Iris Stevens admitted that at least one film was included in the festival because of local influence, despite the jury's contention that the film itself didn't merit inclusion.

Media reviews and publicity stunts

The film received positive reviews from The New York Times, New York Post, National Public Radio and several Irish-American newspapers. In addition, the film was featured by FoxNews, National Public Radio and Boston's CBS-4. The attraction of major media outlets is rare for a low budget film, but was likely due to the underdog story of the Irish National Team, coupled with Fitzgerald's determination to make the film entirely on credit cards.
  • "Think of Rudy
    -Places:* Rudy, Silesian Voivodeship, south Poland* Rudy, Lublin Voivodeship, east Poland* Rudy, Krotoszyn County, Greater Poland Voivodeship, west-central Poland* Rudy, Słupca County, Greater Poland Voivodeship, west-central Poland* Rudy No...

    , the Notre Dame
    Notre Dame Fighting Irish football
    Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team is the football team of the University of Notre Dame. The team is currently coached by Brian Kelly.Notre Dame competes as an Independent at the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision level, and is a founding member of the Bowl Championship Series coalition. It is an...

     walk-on, and multiply it by about a dozen." - Jack Curry, The New York Times
    The New York Times
    The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

  • "A terrific film!" - Kevin Kernan, The New York Post
  • "A tale of perseverance, salted with humor and irrigated with beer." - Bill Littlefield, National Public Radio
  • "Emerald Diamond" restores the innocence of the sport for 90 wonderful minutes, easily ranking as one of the best documentaries I've seen this year. The Irish National Baseball Team, much like other countries currently building their clubs, is where the heart of the game lies today. I highly recommend this opportunity to live the dream with these hard-working men and their amazing journey." - Brian Orndorff, DVD Talk
    DVD Talk
    DVD Talk is a website for DVD enthusiasts founded in January 1999 by Geoffrey Kleinman when DVDs and DVD players were first beginning to hit the market.The site started as an online forum, an email newsletter, and a page of DVD news and reviews...

On July 4, 2006 to celebrate the release of the film on DVD, Fitzgerald and Director of Photography Bill Winters - each trying to overcome a fear of flying while promoting the film - both jumped out of a rented single engine plane over Cooperstown, NY dressed as a leprechaun and a baseball player, respectively. Fitzgerald successfully landed on Main Street in front of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and was subsequently arrested for disturbing the peace and skydiving without a permit or the required training. Winters experienced a panic attack and pulled his ripcord early, ending up 45 miles northwest of Cooperstown on a cow farm. Fitzgerald was held in town jail overnight and released. Winters spent the evening wandering around the farm until hitchhiking back to New York City the next morning. He refuses to speak to Fitzgerald to this day.

The Future of The Emerald Diamond

After winning the Critic's Choice Award at the 2006 Baseball Film Festival, Fitzgerald confirmed that he was writing a feature film script based on the story of the Irish National Baseball Team. He noted that the script will contain several stories that didn't make it to the documentary. He refused to confirm or deny interest or involvement of any actors.

Fitzgerald also announced that he has founded a nonprofit group to help further the development of Irish youth baseball and the Irish National Baseball Team. The organization is called "Emerald Diamond USA" and is focused on raising funds through online donations and fundraising screenings of "The Emerald Diamond."


  • Director John Fitzgerald originally wanted to play for the Irish National Baseball Team, but was ineligible. With his background in TV and film, he decided to try to tell the team's story to a wider audience by making it into a documentary.
  • Fitzgerald had never directed, produced or edited a documentary or a feature film before "The Emerald Diamond."
  • Fitzgerald, Director of Photography Bill Winters and Continuity Consultant Justin Bergen played on the same Little League
    Little League
    Little League Baseball and Softball is a non-profit organization in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania, United States which organizes local youth baseball and softball leagues throughout the U.S...

     team in the early 1990s, which was named after the local Knights of Columbus
    Knights of Columbus
    The Knights of Columbus is the world's largest Catholic fraternal service organization. Founded in the United States in 1882, it is named in honor of Christopher Columbus....

  • Fitzgerald supervised the recording of the film's narration over the phone. Unable to find a quiet place to oversee the session, he drove his car into the Gate of Heaven Cemetery
    Gate of Heaven Cemetery
    The Gate of Heaven Cemetery, approximately 25 miles north of New York City, was established in 1917 at 10 West Stevens Ave. in Hawthorne, Westchester County, New York, United States, as a Roman Catholic burial site...

    , near Lou Gehrig
    Lou Gehrig
    Henry Louis "Lou" Gehrig , nicknamed "The Iron Horse" for his durability, was an American Major League Baseball first baseman. He played his entire 17-year baseball career for the New York Yankees . Gehrig set several major league records. He holds the record for most career grand slams...

    's grave to listen as narrator Sean McCarthy read through the script in his New York City studio.
  • Los Angeles Dodgers
    Los Angeles Dodgers
    The Los Angeles Dodgers are a professional baseball team based in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers are members of Major League Baseball's National League West Division. Established in 1883, the team originated in Brooklyn, New York, where it was known by a number of nicknames before becoming...

     announcer Vin Scully
    Vin Scully
    Vincent Edward Scully is an American sportscaster, known primarily as the play-by-play voice of the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team on Prime Ticket, KCAL-TV and KABC radio...

     was originally interested in recording the narration, but was unable to because of a busy personal schedule immediately following the 2005 Dodgers season.
  • Fitzgerald and Winters narrowly averted arrest for tearing down a Clifford T. Reid campaign poster on a Dublin highway. The poster was for a fringe candidate whose campaign slogan was "Stop the Paedophiles!" Both Fitzgerald and Winters decided the poster was too funny not to bring home and a candidate with such ridiculous looking poster didn't stand a chance at winning anyway. They also were under the impression that Reid himself was the pedophile that needed to be stopped - an assumption that was incorrectly made by many Irish citizens who noticed the giant posters all over the roadways. Reid lost in a landslide.
  • The logo for the film contains the names of cities "Dublin Boston NYC Belfast" - referring to an early version of the film that had extended story development featuring people from the 4 cities. As the film's running time was trimmed from 2:30 to 1:30, much of the background childhood stories of these participants were cut back, but Fitzgerald kept the film's theme to reflect the premise that the Irish National Team was made up of players from various backgrounds and experiences, but they all played together under the Irish flag.
  • Director John Fitzgerald developed nicknames for the production crew so people could easily remember who everyone was while following his production updates on his blog.

External links

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