Sunday, December 16, 2012

An Interview with the Hall of Fame President 12/16/12

Hey baseball fans!

I have another interview for you! This time, I interviewed National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum President Jeff Idelson! I talked to him a couple of days ago and he was a very nice and friendly guy. Click here to see the Hall of Fame's website. Anyway, let me tell you a little bit about Jeff:

Idelson began his involvement in baseball in junior high and high school as a vendor at Fenway Park, the home of the Red Sox. He went on to become an intern in the public relations department of the Sox from 1986 through 1988. Also, during that time, Jeff produced games for the Red Sox Radio Network. After that, he became the New York Yankees' director of media relations and publicity from 1989-1993.

In 1994, he served on the 1994 (Soccer) World Cup committee. Also in that year, Jeff joined the Hall of Fame Museum on September 26th and was appointed director of public relations and promotions. In 1999, he was named the Hall of Fame's Vice President of Communications and Education. On April 16, 2008, Jeff Idelson was named the President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. All in all, Jeff knows a lot about baseball history. Well, that's some background on the HoF Museum Prez, so without further ado, here's the interview:

Matt: As the President of the Baseball Hall of Fame, what is the favorite part about your job?
Jeff: Everything about my job is equally fun. Working with the staff and meeting Hall of Famers is a good time for me.

Matt: What major sports did you follow and play as a kid?
Jeff: I played baseball and basketball and I followed mainly baseball, basketball, and hockey. I followed football a little.

Matt: I know that you were on the 1994 World Cup organizing committee. Who was your favorite soccer player in that World Cup? Who is your favorite soccer player today?
Jeff: During the World Cup that year, I fell in love with the Brazilian team. They won the Cup that year. There was this one forward on the team named Bebeto who I really like. Now, I don’t really follow soccer because I'm so involved in baseball. I guess Ronaldo would be my favorite player today.

Matt: I saw that you produced games for the Red Sox Radio Network in 1987 and 1988. If you were to broadcast any game in the Red Sox history, which one would it be?
Jeff: I think it would have to be the last game of the 1903 World Series, where the Sox became the first team to win the modern World Series. It would also be fun to broadcast the last game of the ’04 World Series because of the Red Sox reversing the Curse of the Bambino.

Matt: Who is your favorite ballplayer of all time?
Jeff: I would say Jackie Robinson because he was the most influential. He opened up the sporting world to a whole new level.  He also made the United States a better country. He helped lay the foundation for Martin Luther King Jr. (Click here if you want to find out more about Jackie Robinson and click here to see an interview I did with his chief historian.)

Matt: Which are your favorite ballparks of all time?
Jeff: They would have to be Wrigley Field, Fenway Park, and Ebbets Field (see picture below). They’re all such memorable parks with such rich history.

Matt: What is your favorite World Series of all time?
Jeff: I think the 2001 World Series is my favorite because of how much drama there was. If two World Series games in a row go into extra innings, that specific Fall Classic is going to be memorable. The Hall actually has the bat that Luis Gonzalez used to hit the ball off Mariano Rivera to win that World Series (see below picture of Jeff with the bat). It's pretty cool.

Matt: When you joined the Hall of Fame Museum in 1994, there was a baseball strike. Did it affect the Museum in any way?
Jeff: Definitely. Attendance went way down for the next couple of years because there were no games to watch, meaning no history. Baseball was in a stage where it wasn't really America's national pastime. In those years, it was probably football. Baseball did resume its popularity soon after the strike, however.

Matt: What is your favorite artifact in the Hall? What artifact do you wish the Hall of Fame had?
Jeff: I really like the Jackie Robinson jersey that we have and the bat that the Babe used to hit his called shot. Another cool artifact in the Hall is Tim Robbins’ jersey from the movie “Bull Durham”. He was a pitcher in that movie and the movie is very famous. Some artifacts I wish we had in the Hall are the ball Bobby Thomson hit to win the ’51 pennant for the Giants and another one is the ball Carlton Fisk hit to win Game 6 of the ’75 World Series. That hit is pretty memorable. A cool artifact I wish we had was Ed Delahanty’s (see below) train ticket that he used to get on the train that he got kicked off of because of misbehavior. The train was going to the U. S. from Canada. After being kicked off, Ed tried to cross the train tracks separating the U. S. from Canada and he fell into Niagara Falls. Ed's plaque is currently in the Hall of Fame, but the ticket is in the bottom of Niagara Falls. That event happened in 1903.

Matt: Can you tell me something about yourself that most people don’t know?
Jeff: I was a DJ for three years and I used to play rock music. I loved the British Invasion music, like the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, and the Who. (Check out more bands from the British Invasion and more by clicking here.)

Matt: Part of the Hall of Fame’s mission is education and connecting generations. Do you have any suggestions on how to educate the younger generation of baseball fans about baseball history?
Jeff: We do it all the time. The Hall goes to schools in all 50 states each year and educates the kids about baseball history and other subjects. We also have a scavenger hunt for kids at the Museum where they can collect baseball cards. It’s pretty cool.

Well, that's the interview. Shout-out to Jeff (see picture of him below) for taking the time to let me interview him. I hope you enjoyed reading this interview as much as I had doing it. Thanks for reading!

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