A’s Welcome Intern from Ireland

A’s Welcome Intern from Ireland

1024 538 PBATS.com

*Story courtesy of Susan Slusser | sfchroncicle.com

MESA, Ariz. — The first time Tara O’Haire saw a baseball game was, well, at the start of this month when the A’s opened the Cactus League season.

An intern with the A’s athletic trainers this spring, O’Haire, 21, is from Ireland. She didn’t have the slightest clue about the sport initially, but she has picked up knowledge quickly after a number of lengthy exhibition games.

“I like it. I’m impressed!” she said. “On the plane on the way over, I was looking at ‘Baseball for Dummies,’ trying to understand the rules. I think I was annoying everyone the first game with all my questions; but after one four-hour game, you sort of get the gist of it.”

Back home, O’Haire’s sport is Gaelic football. “Hard to explain — a little bit like soccer, a little bit like rugby, a little bit like volleyball,” said O’Haire, who still plays half forward, an offensive position, when she can. “It’s a crazy sport. I’ve gotten them all excited about it. A few of the players want to start playing it.

“They were all shocked by hurling, as well. ‘Why don’t they have gloves on?’ Well, it’s Irish, you catch it with your hand!”

O’Haire and three other women from the same college program in Carlow, Ireland, are doing internships toward their degrees back home.

“I thought I should throw myself into the deep end with a sport I don’t know,” she said. “And at home, it’s all lower-limb injuries, ankles and hamstrings and knees, so I’m seeing things we don’t usually see: shoulders, elbows. So I’m definitely learning a lot.”

Said A’s trainer Nick Paparesta: “I’m pretty impressed with how brave Tara is. She’s going across the globe to learn a sport she’s never even seen. She’s done a great job; she’s fit in phenomenally well. The guys give her as much grief as they give the rest of us.”

The A’s have not had a female trainer before, but the organization and the players have been welcoming, according to O’Haire. Assistant trainer Brian Schulman makes sure she doesn’t go outside without sunblock and reminds her to look out for foul balls.

“I feel like I have a second family here. They all look after me,” she said. “It’s surprising how easygoing all the players are. They’re all so laid back.”

O’Haire gets a kick out of the bad Irish accents she hears as the A’s try to imitate her, and she is trying to educate them about Ireland, where, no, corned beef is not a major part of the cuisine.

Here’s a compliment for the A’s: O’Haire has enjoyed her time with them so much this spring, she has decided she’d like to work with a sports team full-time when she gets back home.

“I think she would do great with a team, with her ability to fit in,” Paparesta said. “It’s been really nice to have her here.”