Tuesday, September 8, 2015


If you are a native New Yorker, you are familiar with Foley's NY Pub & Restaurant. It's a popular spot in New York City, located on W. 33rd St., across from the Empire State Building. Athletes, actors, and many other celebrities stop in often, and you can find a number of their autographs on one of Foley's most popular attractions: Their wall of over 3,000 signed baseballs.

Foley's is the home of the Irish American Baseball Hall of Fame. It has the most extensive collection of memorabilia on public display, outside of Cooperstown. Owner, Shaun Clancy, has hosted several charity events at Foley's. For Yankees fans, you may remember David Robertson's charity event for High Socks For Hope hosted at Foley's.  

David Cone even had a brief career as a bartender in 2013 at Foley's for a charity event. 

Foley's signed ball collection houses just over 3,100 signed balls. You can find a number of athletes and celebrities, including Bono, PelĂ©, Katy Perry, and Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the Archbishop of New York. Now Clancy hopes to add a Pope Francis' signed ball to that spectacular collection as a trade offer of 1,000 meals to feed the homeless when the Pope visits New York City on September 25th. Bleeding Yankee Blue had the chance to speak to him about this. Here's the interview:

BYB: Shaun, who are some of the most unusual signings you have in your Foley's ball collection? 

Shaun: I have just shy of 3,200 signed baseballs. And I have everybody from... A lot of baseball players, I have football players, politicians. I have porn stars, believe it or not. But some of the more unusual ones? I have a baseball signed by Gerald and Betty Ford. I have about 200 baseballs signed by actors. I have everybody from Julie Andrews, Kurt Douglas. Daniel Radcliff who played "Harry Potter." Tom Cruise, and David Hasselhoff. I have a couple of Cardinals. I have Cardinal Egan, Cardinal Dolan. I have Cardinal Brady from Ireland. So it covers the gamut. Just last week I got a baseball signed by Penn and Teller. Frank Sinatra, Jr., Tommy Hilfiger, and Geno Auriemma, who is the ladies basketball coach for UConn. 

BYB: Your charity idea is very noble. Do you think his Holiness will go for it?

Shaun: I took a little bit of heat because... 'Why wouldn't I just make the donation anyway?' I mean no disrespect whatsoever when I issued this request. The only reason I did it was because, he's coming to New York. I'm not a deeply religious person. I always considered myself a better Christian than a Catholic. But I've always had that sense of respect. Going back to 1979, when I was 9 years old in Ireland, and woke up at 4 o'clock in the morning to travel half way across the country to visit the Pope. And I have a very extensive memorabilia collection and all sorts of stuff. But one of my favorite pieces is a Papal Proclamation to me from Pope John Paul II. So I don't want people to think that I'm being disrespectful. But we are honoring the fact that the Pope is coming. We are going to have a bit of fun with it, and we're going to have a special Papal menu when he is in the city. But it wasn't meant as a sign of disrespect.  

Foley's has been here for 11 years, and the thing that I am proudest of in the 11 years that we've been here is that we've helped to raise over $400,000 for a whole slew of charities. We've done stuff with David Robertson's charity. 

David Wright has a sandwich on the menu. We've done stuff with Nick Swisher while he was here. Last year alone, we helped to donate to 20 or 22 different charities. I have a soft spot for St. Francis de Assisi because we have a friend who was one of the Brothers there. So we are going to make a donation anyway, but I figured it would be a nice touch since the Pope took Francis for St Francis de Assisi. There is a great expression 'Charity begins at home' and that's what I try to do. I try to keep it local and try to help local charities. So my philosophy is if I can help a little, then I believe in giving back to the people who are less fortunate.  

One of the reasons I got involved with St Francis de Assisi is because the food I am donating - one of three homeless shelters operated by St Francis de Assisi specializes in helping the homeless with mental disabilities, giving them some place where they can go and get their medications. and I got to know about this through some other people who are involved, and when you get to see how passionate they are about it, it's very easy to get involved. Every Christmas I donate a 1,000 pounds worth of food. For Father Pat who passed away, his birthday was St Patricks day, so I donated a portion of the proceeds from St Patricks Day to his charity. If we all helped a little, the world would be a better place. 

BYB: Side question - We know there have been many Yankee greats stopping into Foley's over the years. Has Derek Jeter ever stepped foot in there?

Shaun: No, but there's a lot of guys that do come by. Like David Robertson will stop by when he comes back with the White Sox. Slade Heathcott, the first place he came to after he signed was Foley's. 

I'm actually donating $100 for every home run that Brian McCann hits to his charity, Rally Foundation, which is based in Atlanta, and it helps kids with cancer. 

BYB: Foley's and Bleeding Yankee Blue have a friend in common. The great Pete Caldera of the Bergen Record. You guys honored him in the "I Didn't Know He Was Irish" award. Tell us what you like most about Pete. We love his writing here, but he's an incredible crooner as well.

Shaun: Pete is Chairman of the Board at Foley's. The award is actually named after him. It's the 'Pete Caldera: I Didn't Know He Was Irish' award. Before you get to an incredible writer or an incredible crooner... before you go any further, first and foremost, Pete is an incredible human being. He is the epitome of class. He is the most humble, shy... it's funny because when he sings, he takes on this completely different persona. Pete is a Hall of Famer in my mind before we get to the singing and the writing. And he's very very good at those things as well, but first and foremost he's a really awesome guy. 

BYB: We agree on that Shaun.  Okay, free plug. What would you like to tell the BYB crowd? What's coming down the pike for Foley's?

Shaun: There's a lot coming down the pike. We're going to an event, and hopefully there will be a lot of Yankees, and the event will be for Veterans Day. We're going to host a luncheon for Wounded Warriors, in November. In September, we've got something that is close to Pete Caldera's heart too, we're celebrating Toots Shor's Day. 

He was one of my idols growing up. He was a famous restaurateur. That where the other part of this comes from because I get referred to as this generation's Toots Shor because Foley's is the place where a lot of famous people come. In the 50's and 60's they all went to Toots Shor's. When the Pope came in the 60's, Toots Shor actually did the food for  that visit. So, they know who we are. Come by and see hopefully the baseball signed by the Pope, or the other 3,100 baseballs. It's the perfect place to watch the game, and root for the Bombers. And like we always say, you never know who you're going to meet at Foley's.

BYB: Finally, do you read Bleeding Yankee Blue? If so, what do you think?

Shaun: I do. I may not always agree with the views, but I do read it, and I find it entertaining. I do like to see what the opinions are, and I do enjoy it. 

Shaun has extended an invitation to the Pope to visit Foley's while in New York. He is even willing to hand-deliver the baseball for the Pope to sign if he cannot make the trip to Foley's. Either way, Shaun plans on making a donation. If you would like to learn more about Shaun's plan, or the charity which he will be donating the meals to, check out Foley's website.

From the writers, and readers of Bleeding Yankee Blue, to Shaun and the guys down at Foley's, we wish you the best of luck. We love you guys! A signed ball by the Pope would make an incredible addition to your collection, but your kind, and generous heart speaks volumes of your character, and we are very grateful you allowed us this interview.

-Erica Morales BYB Senior Writer 
Twitter: @e_morales1804

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