Cold Calling Old Ballplayers

From SABR member Graham Womack at Baseball Past and Present on August 16:

I learned a valuable lesson growing up. I found an old San Francisco Giants oral history book at a garage sale, and in the preface, the author spoke of fruitless attempts to interview Willie Mays, noting he had better experiences interviewing many less-famous players. A lot of these former Giants, the author noted, had listed phone numbers and were happy to talk. I took the message to heart, and it’s led to several interviews off cold calls over the years.

I was reminded of this Tuesday evening when I located the number of a former player living in Sacramento, where I grew up and my family lives. At some point, I’ll call this guy as well as the grandson of a Deadball Era star who lives about an hour from me. These calls are rarely bad experiences, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that old ballplayers generally love to reminisce about their careers. I don’t have to do much beyond ask decent questions and listen.

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Originally published: August 19, 2011. Last Updated: August 19, 2011.