Going to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York is a place where you can dig your mind into a gold mine of artifacts and have an amazing day in one of the greatest sports-related places in the world. I have gone to the Hall of Fame multiple times, and die hard baseball fans can never leave Cooperstown without new chunks of baseball knowledge.
The man that runs the most storied Hall of Fame in sports, Jeff Idelson, has been its President since April 2008, and has been in baseball for almost 25 years. Here's my interview with Mr. Idelson:
Brad Wolff: How did you get your first job in Major League Baseball?
Jeff Idelson: My first job in baseball was being a vendor at Fenway Park in Boston. I was a vendor in junior high school, high school and part of college. My first internship was with the Red Sox in 1986 after I graduated from college. I produced Red Sox home radio broadcasts in 1987-88 for WPLM Radio and my first full time paid job was as the assistant director of media relations and publicity with the New York Yankees, starting in 1989.
BW: Who are some of the greatest people you have gotten to meet through your job?
JI: There have been many. From Johnny Unitas to Tip O'Neill to Tom Hanks and Robert Redford to Colin Powell to President Bush to Crosby, Stills and Nash, Bob Dylan, John Fogerty, Sadaharu Oh, Doris Kearnes Goodwin...it's a long list!
BW: What do you daily for the Hall of Fame?
JI: I oversee a 100-person staff and the oldest and best known sports history museum in the nation. From fundraising to public speaking to artifact acquisition to building sponsorships to staying connected to our Hall of Famers and the baseball community at large are all parts of my daily responsibility.
BW: What new ideas do you have to make the Hall more fun and interactive?
JI: We recently opened our first ever bilingual exhibit, Viva Baseball, which explores baseball in Caribbean-basin countries and their impact in Cooperstown. Next year we will open a cool exhibit on baseball records. Both are very interactive. We also have a ton of cool programs where you can meet and talk with Hall of Famers and other stars connected to our great game.
BW: What advice would you have for somebody trying to get into the MLB as an executive?
JI: Work hard in school and learn how to write and learn how to listen well. It does not matter what major you pick, as long as you can leave college knowing how to read, write and think on your feet. Stay connected to the game any way you can. Internships are very important, either within the game or connected to the game. Most of all, be patient. It is a very competitive industry. It took me three full years to find a full time job after graduating.