Oldstead Irish can trace its roots back to 1897, when Brendan Richardson, a passionate Irish sports enthusiast, desired to unite the thriving Irish community along the southern banks of Oldstead. These Irish immigrants had sought refuge in Ianoia, fleeing the devastating Great Famine of Ireland. Richardson saw the opportunity to bring together his fellow countrymen and form a baseball team as a means of recreation and camaraderie.
The team swiftly gained prominence within the community, capturing the hearts of both the Irish population and wider Oldstead. Their dedication, skill, and spirited performances on the field earned them admiration and support from locals. In particular, their series of victories against the Spartans of Martletwy, a renowned amateur team of the era, during the 1899 season propelled Oldstead Irish into the spotlight nationally; winning three out of four games against the Spartans.
However, this success brought its share of challenges. The Irish were initially prohibited from participating in exhibition games as they had not yet registered with the Ianoian Baseball Association. Recognizing the potential of the Oldstead Irish however, Addison Eliot – owner of McCutchen City – who was advocating for the establishment of a professional baseball league in Ianoia, approached Brendan Richardson. Eliot was impressed by the Irish team’s accomplishments to date and believed they deserved an opportunity to compete on a national level. With Eliot’s support, the Oldstead Irish officially registered the club in January 1900 and, just two months later, became one of the founding members of the newly formed I-League.
Upon joining the I-League in 1900, Oldstead Irish faced criticism from older, more established teams who believed they were undeserving of the opportunity. However, the Irish proved their worth on the field as the team finished as runners-up in the inaugural season and went on to win the league championship in 1901. This unexpected success silenced their detractors and earned the Irish newfound respect within the baseball community.
Paget Lane Field, the home ground of Oldstead Irish, is nestled just a stone’s throw away from the idyllic coastline in the southern region of the city. Originally constructed in the early 1900s, the stadium has undergone several renovations to accommodate the growing popularity and fan base.
The grandstands, extending along the first and third baselines, provide a picturesque view of the playing field. The seating arrangement is designed in a semi-circular fashion, allowing spectators to have an unobstructed sightline of the game. With a seating capacity of approximately 32,000, the grandstands offer ample space for enthusiastic fans to cheer on their beloved team.
One of the unique features of Paget Lane Field is the iconic “Shamrock Arch.” Spanning the entrance to the stadium, this intricately designed archway is adorned with vibrant green shamrocks, symbolizing the rich Irish heritage of the team and its loyal supporters. It has become a beloved photo spot for fans and tourists alike.