In the coming days you will be reading about the closing of the the most famous baseball and sports establishment in NYC and probably the country. Yes “Foley’s” in midtown Manhattan will not be reopening when bars and restaurants will be allowed to partially open. You will hear many stories of great times at this incredibly friendly and fun filled place. Shaun Clancy, its founder and owner, refers to it as an “Irish Bar with a Baseball Attitude.” The 3000 autographed baseballs along with hundreds of other baseball and sports items is part of the incredible wall to wall decor.
I want to go back to my first visit to Foley’s eight years ago. At the time I was working for the senior advisor to the GM of the Texas Rangers, Tom “T-BONE” Giordano. He told me that we were going to have lunch that day with his good friend Shaun Clancy in NYC. The short walk from Penn Station to 18 West 33rd. Street brought us to the bright red facade with a baseball bat for a door handle.
As we entered, the welcoming voices directed at Tom were reminiscent of Norm entering ‘Cheers’. Years later, Shaun would graciously allow Tom’s family to hold his memorial there after his passing in 2019. The friendly cheerful crowd, the TVs all tuned to what ever sports games were on was something I had seen before. But what blew me away were all the baseballs, bobbleheads and countless memorabilia that covered the walls and ceiling. Then Shaun greeted us with his kind welcoming smile. He led Tom and I to the far corner in the back of the restaurant area where we were seated. Tom had known Shaun for many years and introduced him to professional baseball. Taking him on road trips to minor league parks where he schooled him on everything he could about the game.
We were joined by Red Sox radio broadcaster Joe Castiglione and then Yankee beat writer Pete Caldera. We talked, we laughed, had some food and beers. Then the day became a mind blowing experience for me when Shaun sat down with us. We laughed until we cried. Irish jokes, poking fun at the table of Italians at an Irish Pub, story after story from everyone followed. I had found my baseball heaven.
From that moment on I was hooked on this place. Shaun has become a dear friend to me. I know that he has become a dear friend to thousands of others. He treats everyone as if you are his best friend. Through the years I have met, had a few drinks at the bar and had lunch or dinner with a “who’s who” of amazing people at Foley’s. There is a saying there that ”You never know who you’re gonna meet at Foley’s.”
Friday morning, when Shaun posted his decision to close because of the loss of business over the forced shutdown these past three months, I was in shock. I was angry and then I had a gut wrenching thought. This is happening all over our country as small businesses struggle to stay afloat. One of my friends wrote me, “If it can happen to Foley’s it is going to happen everywhere.” Yet I believe that Foley’s will rise again like the Phoenix. I will have fond memories of the many times I frequented this amazing friendly place where everyone knew your name. But for now, I feel sadness. I know that there are many people who are suffering around the world and to take a cue from Mr Clancy, they are the ones we need to focus on.
A spokesman for Foley’s said that, “ People have wanted to start a Go Fund Me for Shaun and he said no and that if you want to donate to something, donate to your favorite charity. It is what he would be doing if he could.” That is who he is. It is what his friendly, happy, charitable establishment has always been.
I will raise a toast to Shaun Clancy tomorrow: “May your troubles be less and your blessings be more. And nothing but happiness come through your door.”