The Emerald Diamond

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The Emerald Diamond is a documentary following the history of Baseball Ireland and the Irish National Baseball team. 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.

Release[edit]

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 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 (New York), Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome (Minneapolis), and AT&T Park (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[edit]

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, 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[edit]

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, the Notre Dame walk-on, and multiply it by about a dozen." - Jack Curry, The New York Times [1]
  • "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 [2]

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.[citation needed]

The Future of The Emerald Diamond[edit]

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."

Trivia[edit]

  • 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 team in the early 1990s, which was named after the local Knights of Columbus post.
  • 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, near Lou Gehrig's grave to listen as narrator Sean McCarthy read through the script in his New York City studio.
  • Los Angeles Dodgers announcer Vin Scully 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!"[1]. 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.

References[edit]

  1. ^ nytimes.com - A Whole New Ballgame in Ireland
  2. ^ Dvdtalk.com "The Emerald Diamond"

External links[edit]