MLB Hall of Fame internship special for UI student

Not many people would travel more than 800 miles to work 40-plus hours a week in a town with fewer than 2,000 residents. For University student Brian Iggins, though, the internship sounded like a dream come true.

That’s because that small town just so happens to be Cooperstown, N.Y., the home of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.

Iggins, a senior in history and secondary education, is one of 20 undergraduate and graduate students from around the country selected to take part in the 2011 Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development. He beat out nearly 500 other applicants for the 10-week internship.

After going through an interview process, Iggins was offered a position in the museum’s education department working with public programs. There, Iggins helps the public learn about the vast number of artifacts and relics from baseball’s past. He is also required to complete an artifact spotlight presentation, which highlights a piece of baseball history and tells the stories behind it.

Iggins and the other interns also participate in career seminars designed to help them prepare for their future careers, no matter what field they enter.

“We have six career seminars during the course of the 10 weeks. We bring outside speakers to the Baseball Hall of Fame to work with the intern class,” Director of Museum Education Anna Wade said. “They hear from a variety of different people about things like professionalism, networking, resume writing, job searching, professional etiquette, public speaking and different topics like that.”

But for Iggins, a lifelong fan of baseball and the Chicago White Sox in particular, the Hall of Fame offers more than just a resume builder. It is also a unique intersection of interests.

“I played baseball in little league … and then played it in high school as well. And yeah, it’s always something that’s interested me,” Iggins said. “And being in history as well, I like the historical aspect of it, which the Hall of Fame deals with.”

The museum isn’t just full of relics from players who are long gone, however. Iggins said one of the best parts of the museum is the artifacts from games he can remember watching.

“They had the bat Scott Podsednik used to win Game Two of the World Series and also the glove that Dewayne Wise used two years ago to save Mark Buehrle’s perfect game,” Iggins said.

“I wasn’t necessarily looking for those two things before I came here, but that was definitely the really cool stuff in the museum, that stuff that was really recent that I had seen.”

He says his favorite part, though, is the plaques that memorialize each player inducted into the Hall of Fame.

“It’s really cool to walk in there and see Babe Ruth and Ted Williams and, for me, to see (former White Sox players) Nellie Fox and Luis Aparicio and Carlton Fisk up there,” Iggins said. “It’s all in one room, and you realize that the greats of the game are all represented here … I love that, the hall itself.”

While the internship certainly offers a special opportunity for baseball fans like Iggins, Wade said there are just as many interns who know nothing at all about baseball. But that doesn’t mean the internship is any less significant.

“For the baseball fans, you have a connection with the artifacts and with the stories behind the game,” Wade said. “But for the non-baseball fan, they teach the baseball fans a lot about how the artifacts can be displayed, how a visitor can walk through the museum and learn different things. So it’s really a nice balance. I think both parties get equal amounts out of the experience, it’s just in different ways.”