I don't like sports bars. I don't like nouveau Irish bars. So I'm not sure what made me stick my head into Foley's on West 33rd, but I'm glad I did.
Foley's is famous for its dizzying museum of baseball memorabilia (including more than 3,000 autographed balls). It's only been there about a decade, but the bar itself is a well-preserved antique.
The decorative tile floor alone is worth the trip. There's also a scenic stained-glass wall in the back (Tiffany, or so I was told), and a set of imposing men's room urinals that date to the late 1800s (I was told).
The staff is friendly and, if you're lucky, you'll find yourself in conversation with John Clancy, father of the owner, Shaun Clancy, and author of a memoir entitled "Never Say I Can't." It's easy to fall into chatting with Clancy. Just walk around admiring the place and he'll tell you all about it.
"See that clock up there? It comes from..."
"Papa John," as he is affectionately known, will also tell you about the days when he worked at Toots Shor's, serving Frank Sinatra and Jackie Gleason. And he'll point you to the pistol framed by the door, a gift to him from the mobster Frank Costello.
I wouldn't go to Foley's at night, or during a big game, but on a quiet Saturday afternoon, it's a perfect spot for an old New York feeling.