Jeff Idelson ’86 wants to bring baseball to the world.
After more than three decades working for major league baseball in some capacity, he’s uniquely positioned to make that happen.
Idelson recently announced that he is stepping down as president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum to launch a new venture called Grassroots Baseball with photographer Jean Fruth. Grassroots Baseball’s mission is to promote and celebrate the amateur game around the world, with a focus on growing interest and participation among the youngest players. The overarching goal is to give back by providing inspiration, instruction and equipment to help ensure more children have the opportunity to learn, play and enjoy baseball.
“I’ve spent my 33-year career in baseball promoting the major-league game, but baseball is also about celebrating kids around the world, whether they’re playing in a park, on a sandlot, in the streets or in a minor league ballpark,” Idelson said.
An economics major at Conn, Idelson helped found the College’s club baseball team, worked as news director and disc jockey for the College radio station and also worked in the sports information office. He built strong relationships with former Sports Information Director Mary Taylor and Athletic Director Charles Luce, who encouraged him to explore his passions.
“My experience at Connecticut College clearly provided me with a path for success,” Idelson said. “The four years you spend in college are about more than getting an education in the classroom. They're about education in life. Conn offers the perfect environment to have that experience.”
Almost all of Idelson’s working life has revolved around baseball, beginning in junior high when he worked as a vendor at Fenway Park. Days after graduating from Conn, he returned to Boston and accepted a job as part of the Red Sox public relations team. Idelson later switched sides in baseball’s most famous rivalry, taking on media relations duties and publicity for the New York Yankees from 1989 to 1993 before joining the Hall of Fame. He started out in public relations, working his way up to VP of communications and was finally named president of the Hall in 2008.
Grassroots Baseball will be accompanied by a new book titled, Grassroots Baseball: Route 66, the second installment in a series. The first, Grassroots Baseball: Where Legends Begin is available at www.GrassrootsBaseballBook.com.
“I’m a classic example of a kid following his dream and making the most of it,” Idelson said. “And I’m finding this new experience to be very meaningful. I couldn’t be more excited with this new endeavor.”
For more information, visit www.grassrootsbaseball.com and follow the organization on Instagram and twitter @grassrootsbaseball.