Frank Steele left legacy at Hall of Fame

Written by: Bruce Markusen

For more than two decades, the prominent names of Frank and Peggy Steele have been attached to the internship program at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. But the Steeles’ support of the program that they nurtured goes deeper than just financial support and name recognition.

It is a relationship that has produced one of the country’s most respected endowed internships – and some of the brightest young talent.

Peggy Steele has become a fixture at the Hall of Fame, often visiting Cooperstown to meet with education department officials and checking in each summer to monitor the progress of each class of interns. And much like his widow, the late Frank Steele forged an important link to the Hall of Fame and its educational mission.

Meeting of the minds

Born on Sept. 2, 1928, in Pittsburgh, Pa., Frank Steele graduated from law school, but other than a short stint in the Air Force, he did not practice law. Instead, he decided to take his talents to Wall Street, becoming a member of the New York Stock Exchange. And then, in the 1970s, the lifelong fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates chose to channel his efforts toward baseball and the production of a distinctive set of baseball cards.

Avid collectors of baseball cards and other memorabilia, the Steeles married in 1976. That same year, they met an artist named Dick Perez. Frank Steele began talking to Perez about his interest in collecting. One night, as Perez visited the Steeles at their home in Laverock, Pa., he examined an old Allen & Ginter card that the Steeles had purchased. The artist remarked, “Why don’t they make baseball cards like that anymore?” Steele responded that no contemporary artists painted in the manner of the Allen & Ginter cards. Perez said that he could paint in that style, prompting an idea from Steele’s creative mind. “You paint like that,” said Frank Steele, “and we’ll sell them door to door if we have to.”

Within three years, the Steeles and Perez founded Perez-Steele Galleries with the intention of producing a unique line of cards. By then, the Steeles had forged a strong relationship with the Hall of Fame, primarily through their friendship with Hall of Fame executive Ed Stack. “At the All-Star Game in Philadelphia in 1976, Frank and I went,” Peggy recalls. “Sitting in front of was Paul Kerr, the president of the Hall of Fame, and Ed Stack, (who would become) the chairman of the Hall. Frank knew them from Wall Street – they were clients of his – and he introduced them to me. Frank and Ed Stack rekindled their friendship that day and that’s what really started our relationship with the Hall.”

Postcards from Cooperstown

In 1980, the Perez-Steele Galleries released the first series of their Hall of Fame Postcard set, in conjunction with the Hall of Fame and Museum. Depicting the newest members of the Hall of Fame, the cards would become an annual set, issued in limited edition and highly desired by collectors, particularly those looking for an ideal collectible to be autographed. Steele also made sure to send complimentary sets to each member of the Hall of Fame.

Doing much of his research at the Hall of Fame, Perez used photographs as the basis for his artwork, which featured an array of watercolors. Given the emphasis on artwork, as opposed to the basic photography employed by other companies, Steele didn’t regard the collectible as merely baseball cards. “We are selling baseball art in a postcard format,” Frank explained to Richard Johnson of the Freeman’s Journal. “They’re not baseball cards.”

By 1982, Steele found an additional partner in the Donruss Card Company, which began including an annual “Diamond Kings” subset in its annual release. Much like the Hall of Fame cards, the Diamond Kings cards featured Perez’ artwork. Steele forged yet another idea: Including puzzle pieces within each pack of Donruss cards. When completely formed, each puzzle featured an artistic image of a Hall of Famer, including such legends as Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb. As part of the arrangement, some of the royalties from the sales of the cards went directly to the Hall of Fame’s educational mission.

Steele’s natural enthusiasm carried over to day-to-day life in Laverock, where he and Peggy resided. “He always spent time with people; he was very outgoing and gregarious,” said Peggy. “He loved people. Just as an example, he’d go to the grocery store and he’d be gone for two hours. He’d talk to the owner, George, ask him how the business was doing. He enjoyed talking to people and helping people.”

Steele certainly made an impression on Hall of Fame executives. “Mr. Steele had a tremendous influence on myself, personally, and others,” said Bill Burdick, the longtime secretary of the Hall of Fame. “He was a very caring individual who obviously felt positively about the game of baseball and the Hall of Fame.”

A Cooperstown legacy

In 1997, Steele showed his gratitude to the Hall of Fame when he and Peggy donated their collection of baseball sheet music to the Museum. The Steeles had collected sheet music for 20 years, with a collection that covered a span of over a century. Thanks to the generosity of Frank and Peggy, the Hall of Fame’s sheet music collection doubled in size.

Sadly, Frank Steele died only three years later. On a June day in 2000, he passed away in his home from the effects of pulmonary fibrosis. His death saddened the baseball collecting world, which had come to love his enthusiasm for collecting and the game itself.

Not wanting Frank’s legacy to be quieted, Peggy soon approached the Hall of Fame about an idea that she had been considering. Knowing that Frank had a special interest in the education of young people, Peggy decided to create and fund an internship program that would benefit college students looking for an important work experience. “I thought the internship program was a natural because Frank mentored people. That was something that he always did.”

Beginning in 2001, the Frank and Peggy Steele Internship program was born, allowing students to embark on an annual internship at the Hall of Fame. Two decades years later, the internship program continues to give students a chance to gain experience working at the Hall of Fame in almost every department, from the curatorial staff to the public relations office, from the middle of June to the middle of August. The interns also experience the hectic pace of Hall of Fame Weekend, including the annual induction ceremony.

“It’s exciting,” Peggy says in considering the growth of the internship program since Frank’s passing. “It’s great how all of the managers at the Hall of Fame pay attention to the interns. They have a strong commitment to mentoring. Some Hall of Fame executives have told me, ‘This program is so Frank, and what he was he was all about.’

“It’s what Frank would have done.”

Where are they now

Josh Boots

Steele Internship Class Year: 2004 College: Loras College ‘04 Intern Department: Development Current Occupation: Assistant Vice Chancellor at University of Wisconsin-Platteville Josh graduated magna cum laude from Loras College in December of 2004. A double-major in Sports Management and Business Administration, Josh began his professional career in minor league baseball before moving into the non-profit sector. “While interning at the Hall of Fame, I worked in the Development department which fueled my interest in philanthropy and I have no doubt is the reason I am sitting where I am today,” said Boots. Josh launched his non-profit career with the United Way, working with community members and businesses to fulfill their philanthropic goals while improving the community. From there, Josh returned to his alma mater, Loras College, as a member of the development staff. “My internship in Cooperstown was an incredible journey that I would encourage anyone to partake in, if given the opportunity. During that summer I was able to meet and work with a diverse group of individuals that were unbelievably smart and hardworking.” Work ethic has stuck with Josh, after serving as Associate Vice President of Institutional Advancement at his alma mater, Loras College, he is now Assistant Vice Chancellor at University of Wisconsin-Platteville. “When I look back on my time in Cooperstown, I feel blessed. I was surrounded by an incredible full-time staff that mentored me and a great group of college kids to share the experience. There are no words to express the gratitude I have toward the generosity of Frank and Peggy Steele. “

Sarah Coffin

Steele Internship Class Year: 2010 College: The College of Wooster ‘10, Harvard University '16 Intern Department: Photo Archives Current Occupation: Curator, Boston Red Sox As an undergraduate history student at the College of Wooster, Sarah discovered her passion for museum and exhibit work. This, along with her love of baseball, led her to apply for the Steele Internship program. “I have always loved baseball and the history of the game, so when I saw the application for the Steele Internship, I immediately applied,” Coffin said. “I was incredibly lucky to spend the summer of 2010 as the Photo Archives Intern as part of the Steele Internship Program.” Coffin’s summer in Cooperstown paid off as her connections that summer led to her to open the door with the Red Sox. “While in Cooperstown, I learned hands-on skills necessarily to preserving photographic collections. The Steele Internship gave me an opportunity to merge my passion for baseball with the skills I needed for a successful career in the professional museums world.” After spending her summer in Cooperstown the Massachusetts native landed a job as the Archival Assistant for the Boston Red Sox. Coffin has since risen to the title of Curator. She primarily works with The Red Sox photo collection. Unique opportunities have included the opportunity to assist with the 100th Anniversary of Fenway Park in 2012. The special project included the publishing of three books, a new museum space in Fenway Park known as The Nation’s Archives and a National Geographic documentary, Inside Fenway Park: An Icon at 100. In addition to working at Fenway Park, Coffin has a Master’s degree in Museum Studies from Harvard University.

Erik Ingmundson

Steele Internship Class Year: 2011 College: Wheaton College ’06, UMass-Amherst ‘12 Intern Department: Curatorial Current Occupation: Supervisor of Interpretation, Mystic Seaport Museum (Mystic, Conn.) When Erik Ingmudson became a Steele Intern in 2011, he had bachelor’s degree and four years of work experience in museums and historic sites under his belt. To many, the thought of an internship may have seemed unusual. “While I had enjoyed my job, I knew that in order to grow, I needed further academic training and new professional experiences,” Ingmundson said. “To that end, I enrolled as a graduate student at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. My goal was to earn an M.A. in History, with coursework in museum studies. As part of my degree, I had to spend at least 300 hours interning at a museum or historic site.” For a big baseball fan, what better place than the National Baseball Hall of Fame. As an intern in the museum’s curatorial department, Ingmudson studied alongside John Odell, the museum’s Curator of History and Research. “John had me work on a variety of projects, including writing labels for new exhibits, photographing current exhibitions, and writing an article for Memories and Dreams magazine.” These tasks allowed Ingmundson to sharpened his research and writing skills and learn the importance of using plain, accessible language to convey complex ideas to museum visitors. Upon graduation, Ingmundson continued in the museum field where he currently serves the Mystic Seaport Museum as their Supervisor for Interpretation. He directly supervises approximately 100 staff and volunteers, and helps to develop new educational programs. “Without question, I am a stronger museum professional as a result of my internship with John. I am a better researcher, writer, and creative thinker. I have often heard people ask ‘What can a person do with a degree in history?’ In response, I point to my experiences as a Steele intern and say ‘quite a lot!’”

Emily Bayci

Steele Internship Class Year: 2014 College: University of Illinois ’08, MS LIS University of Illinois ‘12 Intern Department: Library Research Current Occupation: Children's Librarian, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County As an undergraduate journalism student, Emily Bayci always tried to combine her love for sports and books. As a sports reporter for her college’s newspaper, Bayci covered a variety of events. From national championship title runs to record breaking streaks, Bayci’s excitement for sharing sports with others grew. This led her to enroll in the Library & Information Science graduate program at her alma mater. It was during her first year of graduate school that Bayci was able to expand on her love for baseball and books. That year, Bayci participated in an alternative spring break at the Hall of Fame’s Giamatti Research Center. “This week-long experience was the perfect "sneak peak" at everything the Hall of Fame has to offer,” Bayci said. “I shadowed in various departments, had a tour of the museum, the collections and the library and helped answer reference questions. I knew Cooperstown was a magical place after my week-long experience and knew that I was going to return one day.” Little did she know, that day would be a year later as a Steele Intern. “The internship was very similar to my alternative spring break but a million times better. There were 14 other interns to share the experience with and I was able to jump into different responsibilities at the Hall. I loved answering reference questions from Museum visitors. You never knew what to expect.” Upon completion of her 10 weeks in Cooperstown, Bayci traveled to Nanjing, China to report on the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games as a Young Reporter for the International Olympic Committee. “I spent three weeks working with a team of 29 other Young Reporters from all around the world interviewing athletes that could be future Olympians. We focused on the Olympic sports there: gymnastics, swimming and triathlon. My new friends in Nanjing would often ask me why Americans liked baseball and what made it so interesting. I tried my best to explain to them how magical and exciting baseball could be.” After returning from China, Bayci quickly began her new career as a children’s librarian in Cincinnati. As the home to the Reds, she is able to incorporate baseball into her daily programming. With the 2015 MLB All-Star Game taking place in Cincinnati this year, Bayci has created a summer learning program, “All Star Learners.” “I will be having lots of baseball themed story times, activities and movie sessions this summer. I will definitely be able to use all my knowledge that I picked up while working at the Hall.”

Steele Internship Alumni


Ryan Berry Dustin Morse
Jeffrey Blackmun Cami Ori
Stephen Cembrinski Abigail Perkins
Evelyn Chester Chris Sexton
Jeremy Chrabascz Ben Tucker
Shawn Kirkpatrick Katharine Willers
Megan McVinney Andrew Zides


Kristen Aiken Melissa Marietta
Michael Braunstein Derek Mayfield
Tamara Brothers Ashley Morgan
Stephanie Bussman Brian Moynahan
Carl Cambria Eric Poulin
Dan D'Addona Jason Schiellack
Marie DeSarro David Schnell
Jorge Dominguez Matt Schoss
Beth Elliott Sara Smith
Timothy Ferguson Brandt Vawter
Daniel Heckel Trish Vignola
Amanda Holland Jason Wallen
Nadine Karel John Williams
Ryan Kirchmeier  


Tim Bergner Mackenzie Manring
Nathan Bollacker Sarah Marconi
Stephanie Calvano Matt Messerli
Erin Cobb Will Nickerson
Rachel Curtis Tom O'Connor
Patrick Downey Ben Odell
Emily Giaimo Caleb Ostrander
Betsy Gladish Matthew Popadiuk
Stefani Harrison Katie Ringenbach
Matthew Hazzard Erin Brooke Robinson
Cliff Hight Brian Schreckinger
Heather Jones Rebecca Slaughter
Jessica Kline Tony Suarez


Nicholas Barry Matt Mooney
Josh Boots Rachael Morrissey
Ashleigh Cooper Alyssa Rabinowitz
Lewis Dorman IV JoAnn Sanders
Shaun Dougherty Taylor Schneider
Robert German Sherida Sessa
Erika Gordon Nicole Slatcoff
Stephanie Hazzard Dan Smaczny
Michelle Henke Elizabeth Terry
Amanda Jurcisin Lisa Totaro
Vernon Kline Jonathan Underwood
Benny Lewis Kelly Weaver
Jeff Lewis Steven Wells
Nicholas Maestas Everett Wiggins


Scott Barton Joe Lemire
Matt Bose Matthew Lozar
Liam Bowen Jenny McMillen
Michael Bowling George Missett
Gino Caropreso Marcus Nakamura
Matthew Colaprete Katherine Owens
Stephanie Crowe Blake Paul
Sean Gallagher Meghan Powers
Jesse Gerner Kathryn Raley
Morgan Gmelch Cortney Stafford
Ben Hewitt Tara Summus
Julia Hickey Greg Vadney
Chad Jones Stacy Wolfe
Adam Krouse  


Dan Bettin Jennifer Mayer
Melissa Brayall Jenny McElroy
Andrew Chesebro Joe Meginnes
Joseph Collier Emily Pronovost
Kristen Costa Cate Putirskis
Sara DeGaetano Whitney Selover
Maria Hernandez Cyndi Shein
Kathryn Hudson Doug Walden
Matt Johnson Lauren Weybrew
Joe Kirschbaum Julie Wilson
Aquiles Landaverde  


Jeffrey Aronson Tiffany King
Kyle Austin Eric Leong
Timothy Bartlett Stephen Light
Ed Benoit Lara Nicosia
Patricia Bigelow Mallory Oliver
Kelliann Bogan Heather Oswald
Michael Giraud Elizabeth Price
Amanda Graham Brian Richards
Matthew Hayden Glennton Sevier
Andrew Hoglulnd Larry Young


Adam Berenbak Jeff Neale
Sarah Blanding Greg Petterson
Emily Brown Kevin Pickhard
Caitlin Bumford Erin Quinn
Michael Cheyne Sam Rosin
Lauren Chrusz Michael Scholl
Erin Convery Michael Scott Jr.
Anna Harvan Valerie Silverwood
Lindsay Matson Sascha Wiessmeyer
Patrick McDermott Lindsay Zaborowski
Maya Morris David Zhuo


Jennifer Barbour Carrie Dunham
Noah Becker Aisha Johnson
Brody Bernheisel Thomas Lawrence
Bridget Bielefeld Laura Lay
Dorian Bowen Bobby Meyer
Nicholas Brennan Carlos Pearman
Lauren Brincat Maria Pease
Anthony Cardona Heather Rivet
Mollie Cowen Matt Rothenberg
Matthew Cox Daniel Sampson
Robert Demetrious  


Kristen Alford Bethany Girod
Chris Blake Rob Hoffman
David Brooks Kara Kempski
Sarah Coffin Anna Kollaja
Tamesha Derico Mark Nader
Stephon Dingle Victoria Nogay
Jonathan Dunkle Craig Nordquist
Cody Eding Thomas Ponte
Megan Eding Sarah Smith
Erica Flanagan Lawrence Snyder
Allison Gallaspy Marty Tschetter


Ana Apostoleris Rayna Linowes
Kelsey Brodersen David Loftus
Katherine Coasts-Thomas Nicole Pappas
Christopher Duffy Lauren Pate
Susan Gilmore Jennifer Rodger
Sarah Green Nina Schreiner
Roseanne Grigoli Megan Tope
Brian Iggins June Trimble
Erik Ingmundson Sarah Wasser
Bethany Koehn Lauren Wretman


Laurel Camean Jackson Malnati
Nichole Clayton Jessica Mayercin-Johnson
Jacob Fishbein Kimberly McCray
Ricardo Gomez Clifford "Max" Miller
Megan Griffin Connor O'Gara
Lindsey Hale Amanda Rodriguez
Elly Jurgensen Nadia Stennes-Spidahl
Cassidy Lent  


Haley Alvarez Bill Getschman
Claire Berge Andrew Hicks
Carly Busse Andrew Kivette
Fernando Carrasquillo Kasey Metzler
Maura Coonan John Seymour
Dana Edwards Paul Vinelli
Eric Feingold Connor Wynn
Kathleen Fry  


Emily Bayci Sarah Harris
Molly Becker Matthew Humerick
Elyse Bennett Ross Insana
Mackenzie Brennan Kenneth Roussey
Christopher Doctor Christian Stegall
Kevin Drislane Peter Stein
Corbin Gapski Matthew Struckle
Kristen Gowdy  


Caitlin Avinger Parker Fish
Andrew Bevevino Luke Folts
Tommy Bohnert Travis Green
Sarah Calise Adam Lathrop
Michael Calkins Gretyl Macalaster
Jeremy Canter Rachel Nellis
Jonathan Chodzko Ryan Turnquist
Andrew Distler Joseph VanWinkle
Austin Doll Hannah Visnosky
  Jessie Zyhowski  


Katherine Acquavella Zach MacDonald
Katherine Adriaanse Nina Phan
Erik Breit Rachel Robertson
Larry Brunt Christopher Shupenko
Drylan Drollette Sam Sinykin
Troy Farkas Khephren Spigner
Kimberly Hannigan Jack Spooner
Joseph Kuykendall Peyton Tracy
Katie Mackin Katherine Walden  


Meghan Anderson Cady Lowery
Charles Barchett Hannah Mahnken
Madeline Chessario Elizabeth Muratore
Emily Cooper Cassidy Murray
Samuel Dreyfuss Emily Perdue
Rebecca Finnigan Samantha Selikoff
Michael Fishbach Addison Skaggs
Kyle Grozen Hanna Soltys
Justin Hendry Erica Wells
Cagney Irving Eldon Yeakel  


Brooklyn Del Barba Lauren Phillips
Lily Brandt Bruno Rosa
Meaghann Campbell Jason Rose
Jordan Cohn Patricia Singletary
Danielle Dadig Meredeith Tomich
Sophie Grus Joella Travis
Marisa Hernandez Steven Walters
Jessica Hollister Caleb Weisman
Ivy Houde Kelli Yakabu
Lauren Lanter  


Kristina Abicca Jerry Goosenberg
Garett Allen Jenna Guenther
Michael Belmont Kallan Jackson
Sarah Bennett Rachel Kingham
Leah Buhagiar Patrick LaBella
Erin Carmody Mickey Lanning
Matthew Carter Janey Murray
Anthony DeSimone Eric St. Peter
Presley Favre Johnny Sullivan