Column: Interning at the Baseball Hall of Fame

By Cody Eding

Column: Interning at the Baseball Hall of Fame

I have met some great personalities in my time as a writer, but these days every interview has become a new and exciting experience.

It has been more than a month since I packed my things and headed out of Michigan. My final destination: Cooperstown, N.Y., and a summer internship in the public relations department at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

When my office phone rang Tuesday afternoon, it was not surprising my boss was on the other end. His words, however, caught me off guard.

“Dante Bichette is in the research library. Do you want to interview him and write a blog?”

At least, I believe that is how he phrased it. My mind stopped after hearing Bichette’s name, and again after “interview.”

Dante Bichette is not a household name, but most baseball fans will recognize him as the former power-hitting outfielder from the 1990s.

So off I went across the museum to the research library. With less than a minute to prepare, the only questions coming to mind were basic. There was no time to do better.

Former athletes lose their shape shortly after retiring — or so I thought. Even sitting down, Bichette seemed large in front of me. Besides two bad knees, the former Colorado Rockies slugger appeared ready to take batting practice.

And with those thoughts on my mind, the interview started. Not more than 10 minutes later, the impromptu meeting came to a successful end with a handshake and a thank you. Bichette headed off to coach his son’s baseball game, and I scampered back to my desk to write.

It was just another day at the office.

Work has never been a pleasant experience. Work is a necessary evil: a summer job instead of going to the beach, a 10-page paper due tomorrow when you want to relax tonight.

It is boring, time consuming and does not make a person happy. Yet, this quaint little town of 2,000 people has provided me with a job about which I cannot complain.

Living and working in rural New York is not what I had mind when casually sending off internship applications last fall. Sometimes I am amazed my GPS could even find this tiny place. Still, here I am, one of 22 interns selected out of a group of almost 500 applicants — I count my blessings constantly.

Working at the Hall is a never-ending learning experience. Not only have I learned plenty about public relations, the amount of baseball crammed into my head has grown exponentially. For someone obsessed with the sport, this is heaven.

The Hall has an incredible collection of more than 38,000 3-D artifacts, and I have seen and touched some of the best of them: game-used bats from Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams and Ken Griffey Jr., a game-used glove and jersey sweater from Ty Cobb, first base from Armando Galarraga’s “perfect” game, baseballs signed by Jackie Robinson and, weirdly, a bottle of Tris Speaker-branded whiskey.

I met almost 30 former major leaguers, including seven Hall of Fame members — in just one weekend. In case you were wondering, Ozzie Smith is extremely quiet and Bob Feller likes to talk.

But for all of the amazing things I have done in my time here, there is one experience that tops all others: solitude.

There are days when I arrive early to work to walk through the plaque gallery without the waves of tourists. If the weather is nice, the sun shines through the skylights and creates a picturesque scene among the almost 300 baseball heroes. For a short time, it is just me and the best to ever play America’s pastime. The experience is unforgettable.

Some visit Cooperstown only once in their life. I have 10 full weeks.

I consider myself lucky.

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