The Emerald Diamond

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The Emerald Diamond
Directed by John Fitzgerald
Release date
  • November 11, 2006 (2006-11-11)
Running time
114 minutes
Country Republic of Ireland
Language English

The Emerald Diamond is a documentary following the history of Baseball Ireland and the Irish National Baseball team. It was released in 2006.[1]

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 and, later, Harlem Line Media.

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.[2]

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[3]
  • "A terrific film!" - Kevin Kernan, The New York Post[4]
  • "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 [5]

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 "The Baseball United Foundation" and is focused on making the game of baseball accessible to communities where the game is not traditionally played.[6]

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.
  • 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.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "St. Patrick's Day + Spring Training = Irish Baseball! – John Fitzgerald". Johnfitzgerald.net. 2014-03-07. Retrieved 2016-11-02. 
  2. ^ "2006 Film Festival | Baseball Hall of Fame". Baseballhall.org. Retrieved 2016-11-02. 
  3. ^ "A Whole New Ballgame in Ireland". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-11-02. 
  4. ^ Kernan, Kevin (2006-02-27). "Irish Have Own Field Of Dreams | New York Post". Nypost.com. Retrieved 2016-11-02. 
  5. ^ "The Emerald Diamond : DVD Talk Review of the DVD Video". Dvdtalk.com. Retrieved 2016-11-02. 
  6. ^ Mooney, Tom. "Irish baseball player gets taste of America's pastime in R.I. - News - providencejournal.com - Providence, RI". Providencejournal.com. Retrieved 2016-11-02. 

External links[edit]