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    Croatian American community in New York and the American spirit – part 3

    After first and second article, here is third.


    Along with Croatian American’s contributions to their respected fields, they have always maintained a close kinship to their love for Croatia while showcasing their skills in Croatia’s national sport, soccer. Established in 1923, the Cosmopolitan Soccer League, one of the oldest soccer leagues in the United States, provided numerous amateur soccer clubs from diaspora communities in New York, including the New York Croatia Soccer Club (NY Croatia SC). Since 1962, NY Croatia SC has been one of the many Croatian American soccer clubs and one of the first teams within the Croatian National Soccer Federation of Canada & USA (HNNS). New York Polet has also been one of the premier Croatian soccer clubs in New York since 1975, along with many teams in the HNNS, including Hajduk New York. 

    Baseball has also provided a home for prominent Croatian Americans in the major leagues, such as Roger Maris. Born as Roger Eugene Maris, he was traded to the New York Yankees after the 1959 season. In 1961 he set a new Major League Baseball (MLB) single-season record with 61 home runs, breaking Babe Ruth’s single-season record of 60 set in 1927. The record stood until 1998. Mickey Mantle called Maris’ sixty-one home runs “the greatest sports accomplishment of his time.” Maris was an American League (AL) All-Star from 1959 through 1962, an AL Most Valuable Player in 1960 and 1961, and an AL Gold Glove Award winner in 1960. He took the Yankees to two World Series victories: one in 1961 and the second in 1962. He was honored in 1984 when the Yankees retired his uniform number 9 and honored his achievements with a plague in Yankee Stadium sub-titled “Against All Odds.” In October 2022, Maris was inducted into the Croatian American Sports Hall of Fame by the National Federation of Croatian Americans Cultural Foundation, along with Croatian American baseball star, Mickey Lolich. 

    Media and Communication

    As important sports are for Croatian Americans, media and communication have remained one of the most important forms for Croatian emigrants to keep track of current events within the community and in Croatia. During the early 20th century at least thirty-five percent of Croatian emigrants were illiterate, and many relied on oral forms of communication. Despite this disadvantage, newspapers served an important role in communicating to the Croatian community to report changes in employment opportunities, immigration law, or current events in Europe. In 1898, Frank Zotti, a Croat from the Bay of Kotor and entrepreneur from New York City founded the Narodni List, a Croatian weekly, and provided various news about American politics and history, general news from Europe and Croatia, and legal advice regarding naturalization and returning home. His skills in journalism and reputation as a successful entrepreneur earned him the name the “King of the Croatians.” The Narodni List would follow many other editors, including the Croatian Fraternal Union’s Zajedničar in 1905 in Pittsburg, Hrvatski Korijen, Sutra Croatian Magazine, Croatian American Times and the Croatian Chronicle (Hrvatska Kronika).

    Radio also served as an important form of media for the Croatian American community in the New York area with Glas slobodne Hrvatske (Voice of Free Croatia), founded in 1969.    

    Višnja Miočić i Sanja Bogović, voditeljice na HRNY i osnivačice Croatian Chronicle sa velikanima Hrvatskog radio programa Glas slobodne Hrvatske Krunoslavom Mašina, Vinkom Kužinom i Stipom Dumančićem

    Croatian American legacy 

    Waves of Croatian immigrants have kept pace since the end of World War II, leading to other waves during Croatia’s recent membership into the European Union in 2013, which lifted many immigration and employment restrictions. The Homeland War in the 1990s also incentivized newer waves and diaspora communities to fundraise to help with the country’s war effort. With a population of over 8.4 million of various ethnic backgrounds in New York, Croatian Americans have demonstrated to be the most influential people to excel in a vast spectrum of job fields while dealing with the necessities to assimilate into American society. Despite these challenges, Croatians in New York for hundreds of years have maintained a firm aspiration to prepare an educated next generation in American values and ensure they are productive in society while securing and honoring their ancestral homeland roots and language. On May 22, 2023, all these recognitions to American society and the rich history of the Croatian Americans were honored when New York Mayor Eric Adams issued a proclamation for Croatian Heritage Day and raised both the American and Croatian flag.  

    The Croatian writer and poet Josip Novakovich once described this special relationship between the United States and Croatia when traveling to across the country and said, “You can leave another country to go to the States, but once you get [there], the States get into you, and there’s hardly any way of leaving. Even if you do, you carry America with you.”

    Printed Sources for all three articles: 

    Croatian American Sports Hall of Fame: Inaugural Induction Ceremony and Dinner Program, National Federation of Croatian Americans Cultural Foundation, American Croatian Lodge Eastlake Ohio, October 2022.

    Harris, Robin, “Dubrovnik,” London, British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data, 2006, pp. 19-20  

    Prpić, George J. “The Croatian Immigrants in the United States of America”. Croatia: Land, People, Culture Volume II, edited by Francis Eterovich and Christopher Spalatin, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1970, pp. 394-478.  


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