Schenectady native fielding baseball queries
SCHENECTADY A Schenectady High School graduate is learning a lot more this summer at the Baseball Hall of Fame about a sport she loves.
As part of the Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program at the Hall of Fame, Schenectady native Cassidy Lent is in Cooperstown working with the staff of the museum’s library research department.
Her cardinal chore? Fielding baseball questions of all sorts. No matter how obscure the answer, Lent and the research department at the Hall will scour the annals of baseball antiquity to help bring closure to your dinner table, workplace — wherever it is that your ballgame discussion has come to a stalemate.
After a question is received, Lent may sift through the Hall’s three million-plus baseball-related documents and 500,000-plus photographs to pinpoint the information requested.
“I’m learning more about players that I’ve either never heard of or that I know almost nothing about. I’m learning the kind of information that announcers give out,” Lent said. “Each day allows me to learn something new, whether it’s about stats, players, teams, or just the game in general.”
Lent was told about the Hall’s internship program through her father, Charles Lent. An avid baseball fan himself, he emailed his daughter a link to the application on the Hall of Fame’s website during her junior year at college.
“I didn’t apply that year because I was [not] qualified for any of the positions, or they didn’t fit what I was going to school for,” Lent said. “He sent it to me again this past fall and convinced me to apply. … It’s because of him that I have a love of baseball.”
Since 2001, the Hall has been inviting students from colleges across the nation to intern in their museum’s various departments. They selected 15 of the more than 500 applicants for this summer from schools as far away as Nebraska, Denver, Minnesota and British Columbia.
Unsure of her chances of being chosen, Lent had other plans for her first post-graduate summer.
“The plan was to come home, get a job, and work on getting into graduate schools,” she admitted. “I never thought they’d call me back. You just send it in and hope for the best.”
She was elated to receive a phone call from the Hall of Fame in early spring. “I got a phone interview, gave them my references, and got another call less than a week later and was offered the internship.”
Many of the questions the research department receives come from the family members of former players looking for information on their relatives’ careers. Sometimes, as was the case this summer with former New York Mets reliever Turk Wendell, the players come in themselves to dig up their own records.
“We pulled out his clippings file and his photo files for him and the other people who were with him. The players seem to enjoy looking at this information because it’s always possible that we have something they may not have.”
With no disrespect to Wendell, Lent would rather have met her favorite player, former New York Yankee Tino Martinez. Since she began her internship, Lent has been the victim of tongue-in-cheek baseball prejudice against the Yankees and their fans.
“I catch a lot of flak for that at the hall; I guess it’s ‘the easy team’ to like,” she said laughingly. “My dad gave me my love of baseball, but my mom showed me that the Yankees weren’t the only team out there.
“My family is so excited for me. Every time I come home and see people I know, they always seem to know [about my internship] because someone in my family has told them. … I’ve gotten lucky. I’ve got a good foundation and a family that supports me in all I want to do.”
Lent graduated from Schenectady County Community College in 2010, and from Southern Connecticut State University this spring with a bachelor’s degree in information and library science. She’d like to use her degree to continue researching at the Hall of Fame after her internship is finished.
“Originally, I wanted to work anywhere in the hall, doing anything. This is still true, but my first choice would be to work in the library. It gets forgotten sometimes because it’s kind of tucked away, but it’s just a wealth of information,” Lent said.
“Right now, I would say the most important thing I am getting from the internship is a chance to build my skills as a reference librarian and a chance to gain connections in the library and baseball world,” she added. “In all honesty, I’m not sure I could be happier at this point in my life.”
Find more information on the Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program at the Baseball Hall of Fame online at www.BaseballHall.org. Applications for the 2013 session will be available beginning this fall.
To get your baseball questions answered by Lent and the Hall of Fame research department, send them by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, call 607-547-0330 or visit the Hall’s website.