Sep. 8—MARIETTA — Scattered about the walls and showcases of Duck's Dugout, a sports memorabilia shop off Canton Road, are countless memories of sports history. Signed floorboards from NBA legends as well as programs from 1960s Masters Tournaments can be found next to a case dedicated solely to the 2021 World Series Champion Atlanta Braves.
Sitting in a corner of the store, near the spot where the autograph line begins that offers guests a chance to meet stars such as Austin Riley and Freddie Freeman through public signings, is a collection of items that hung in prominence at the former Foley's NY Pub and Restaurant, a giant in sports fandom history that Google once rated as one of the best baseball bars in the country. A minute walk from the Empire State Building, Foley's closed its doors in 2020 due to the pandemic.
"It changed the world," said Shaun Clancy, former owner of Foley's, about the shelter-in-place mandate that caused his pub to first shut down. "I was hoping to reopen, but with everything changing the way it was, I made the decision to close down and get my family taken care of."
The Foley's legend dates to 2004, when Clancy, a native of Ireland, opened for business at 18 West 33rd Street in New York. The focus was an Irish-American sports bar with a baseball-heavy theme, which he named after seasoned sportswriter Red Foley.
The decision to open Foley's was based on a simple principle, driven by Clancy's desire to connect with as many people as he could. His connections with people like Duke Castiglione Jr., son of the long-time announcer for the Boston Red Sox, started a ripple effect of baseball regulars hanging their hat at the door.
Over the years, as Foley's grew in prominence as a hotspot for athletes, sports writers, umpires, and celebrities, Clancy started to build his collection by having each special guest sign a baseball before they left, with many others providing other items as gifts. Those signed baseballs filled the showcase walls of the New York pub, amassed over its nearly two-decade tenure, eventually totaling nearly 4,000, according to Clancy, who said his collection of more than 10,000 total items started by accident.
"I wasn't a huge collector," Foley said. "It started as a couple of small pieces here and there and snowballed into what you see today."
The wide range of stars include Hank Aaron, Michael Phelps, Julie Andrews, Morgan Freeman, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Buzz Aldrin.
Foley's was also home to the Irish American Baseball Hall of Fame, founded in 2008 by Clancy, which recognizes people of Irish-American descent who had a meaningful impact on the game of baseball. The pub also regularly donated proceeds from shift hours to people and groups in need, according to Clancy.
"Foley's isn't a brick-and-mortar location at 18 West 33rd Street," Clancy said. "It's the people."
The Foley's collection is eclectic, filled with unique items such as a mannequin used in Madonna's "Like a Prayer" music video, a commemorative home plate signed by Presidents George H.W. and George W. Bush, and a Stedman guitar signed by George Jones. All of these pieces, along with the rest of his collection, are working their way onto the floor of Duck's Dugout.
The total value of the collection is "estimated to be close to $500,000," said Brad Hainje, the shop's communications vice president. Hainje formerly worked with the Braves as the team's media relations director from 2004 to 2018, often visiting Foley's when the team had contests against the Mets or Yankees.
Hainje and his partners obtained the collection in August 2021, when Clancy was moving to Tampa, Florida. Hainje and his partners are now carefully moving and displaying pieces of the pub, working hard to keep everything in the same shape it was in when it sat at Foley's.
"It's a great honor to have this collection," Hainje said. "Everybody in sports knew about Foley's and it was such a neat place for sports people."
A percentage of the proceeds earned from the sale of the collection will go to charities that Clancy supported during his time as the pub's owner. The organizations include Umps Care, a group run by Major League Baseball that visits terminally ill children in hospitals, as well as groups who support people with autism.
"The more money we get for the collection helps not just Shaun, but a lot of other people as well," Hainje said.
Items are marked with specific serial numbered hologram stickers, setting the collection apart from the rest of the store.
"Whether it's a ball or a boxing glove, we're going to mark everything to signify that it was a true Foley's piece," Hainje said.
Part of the collection is on display now. Hainje and his team are working on pricing the large lot of inventory, with more items expected to be brought out to the floor soon.