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A scene from the Netflix movie "The Irishman." Pictured are Al Pacino, left, portraying Jimmy Hoffa, and Robert De Niro as Frank Sheeran.
A scene from the Netflix movie "The Irishman." Pictured are Al Pacino, left, portraying Jimmy Hoffa, and Robert De Niro as Frank Sheeran. (AP)

Viewers of Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman” may have noticed a brief Baltimore cameo.

Ahead of the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, the film’s protagonist Frank Sheeran, played by Robert De Niro, is sent to drive a rig to Florida, with a pit stop at a concrete plant in Charm City.

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The Eastern Avenue concrete plant is mentioned in the book “I Heard You Paint Houses: Frank ‘The Irishman’ Sheeran and Closing the Case on Jimmy Hoffa,” penned by Charles Brandt in 2004 and the basis for the recent film.

According to the book, based on interviews with Sheeran, it was called the Harry C. Campbell concrete plant, later renamed Bonsal. Searching through The Baltimore Sun archives, we found no mention of that facility, though the similarly named Harry T. Campbell & Sons operated a concrete plant in White Marsh in the late ’50s. The land eventually became the site of White Marsh Town Center.

Once in Baltimore, Sheeran described seeing a small plane manned by a mafia pilot, who directed Sheeran and his partner to back up next to some army trucks. From them emerged a “gang of soldiers” who commenced unloading military uniforms, weapons and ammunition into Sheeran’s rig. The pilot claimed the supplies had come from the Maryland National Guard.

Sheeran then drove down Route 13 to his final destination in Florida, where he met with “a guy with big ears named Hunt," or E. Howard Hunt, later one of the Watergate burglars.

Did any of this actually happen?

“The book is fictional," said Kenneth J. Hughes, historian with the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs. "There’s no real reason to believe it. That said, Shakespeare’s ‘King Lear’ is fictional too. And it’s great. And ‘The Irishman’ is a great movie too.” (Full disclosure: This reporter worked with Hughes at the Miller Center years ago.)

Although Hunt, who was working for the CIA at the time, did work on the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, Hughes said, “I have no reason to think that the U.S. government would rely on the mob for munitions, when who could provide munitions better than the U.S. government itself?”

But cheer up, conspiracy theorists. The CIA did engage the mob in several attempts to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro, “none of them remotely successful,” Hughes said.

Baltimore Sun librarian Paul McCardell contributed to this article.

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