Baldassaro interview collection details rich history of Italian Americans in baseball
“Here I am, all four grandparents and my mother were born in Italy, so they were immigrants. I’m a professor of Italian, and I’m writing about baseball,” Baldassaro said. “Why not write about Italians in baseball?”
It began with an interview with Phil Rizzuto in 1993 at Milwaukee County Stadium, where Baldassaro was a frequent visitor thanks to his role as a writer for the Brewers’ Game Day Magazine. Decades later, Baldassaro is the author of three different books focused on Italian Americans’ contributions to baseball – and now, a collection of the interviews he conducted for one of those books is part of the Hall of Fame’s Recorded Media Archives.
He knew that, for posterity, the Hall of Fame was just the place where these rich accounts of baseball history should reside.
“The game on the field pretty much stayed the same, but it changed in many ways – day games, no night games, traveling by train, sharing rooms in the hotels, working in the offseason,” Baldassaro said. “These stories do reveal the humanity behind the statistics, and they provide, I think, a very vivid description of day-to-day life in the big leagues, going back to the 1930s, all the way to today, seeing how life in the big leagues has changed.”
And yet, despite the many changes to the game, by Baldassaro’s observation, the core motivations of baseball’s greatest talents have remained largely stagnant.
“You get a sense from every one of them that, yeah, they made money, and some of the more recent ones a lot of money, but fundamentally, the motivation was always, ‘I love the game, and that’s what I want to do with my life,’” Baldassaro said.
Janey Murray was the digital content specialist at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum