Big Al's and Aer Lingus Flyers
Aer Lingus Softball team was founded in 1986 when an Aer Lingus mechanic went
to New York on holidays and came home with a softball glove and ball. He issued
an invitation to anyone who knew how to play to set up a team. Another mechanic
had a wooden softball bat. Somebody else chipped in 4 car mats as bases. After
the initial confusion of how to play the game ("What do you mean we ALL need
a glove? We only have one!") the Flyers softball team was founded.
In the beginning, we played on what is now the site of hangar six at Dublin Airport. Bicycles marked the outfield, and dead balls occurred when the ball hit the runway, or a passing aeroplane (we actually played inside the airport grounds back then). (Actually, we’re only joking about the runway/aeroplane thing, but it sounded good). Fortunately, the Aer Lingus Sports and Social Club, ALSAA, gave us a dedicated pitch far, far away from the damage we could do to the runway, erected a backstop, and left us to our own devices.
Back in 1986 there were few softball teams in Dublin - the US Embassy and the Canadian Embassy often had softball challenge matches, and many US companies based in Ireland, also had softball teams. The Flyers were one of the first teams in Dublin, and we played a team from Datalex, a US company, every two weeks. Passers by joined in and eventually created their own teams. Very soon the IBSA (Irish Baseball and Softball Association) was founded and a league was established.
The Flyers reigned in the first division of this league for many years, and many other teams came along, eventually widening the league to 6 divisions in 1998. In 1993, Aer Lingus expanded to two teams - the Flyers and the Jets, in keeping with the airline spirit. We often wondered what we would call a third team - the Aer Lingus Turbo Props just didn’t have the same ring to it. Fortunately, this never happened. The Jets disbanded in 1995, with the Flyers continuing to bounce between the first and second division of the Leinster League for many years.