BND Magazine

July 13, 2014

The major league of internships: Cooperstown

Molly Becker scored big when it came to a summer internship. The 22-year-old Belleville West grad is in Cooperstown, N.Y., at Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame.

"It's so much fun," she said. "With the 75th anniversary (July 4) of Gehrig's Luckiest Man speech, I'm full of Lou Gehrig trivia."

One of her favorite bits of trivia?

"Wally Pipp was the first baseman for the Yankees from 1915 to 1925," she said. "One day he asked the manager if he could sit out. He had a headache. Lou Gehrig replaced him. Just like that, the starting first baseman lost his spot. Lou Gehrig played in 2,130 consecutive games. I found it ironic because Lou Gehrig never took a sick day, but was replaced by someone who did."

Molly, a recent University of Illinois grad, is halfway through a 10-week internship -- stipend included -- that ends Aug. 8. Last week, she and a fellow intern were coming up with between-inning activities for the July 15 All-Star game that will be shown at the museum theater.

How did you hear about the internship? "I do research for one of my professors who does research on the history of baseball. He knew about it. The application for the Steele Internship is placed on the Hall of Fame's website ( in the fall, and is due by January 31, followed up by a phone interview for finalists. Over 600 people applied and I was fortunate enough to be one of 15 chosen."

What gave you the edge? "One point that made me stand out is I did work for the (University of Illinois) football team. I did tours of the football facility. Some of my duties there were similar to what I do here. I now know way more about baseball. I'm immersed all day, every day. I love it."

Do you spend much time in the Hall of Fame? "I get to work in the museum and plaque gallery every day. I'm one of four interns in programming. We make something called a 'Lineup,' or a list of programs offered each day." They include museum theater pieces, plaque gallery tours, trivia games, artifact spotlights, and hands on history carts. The museum theater pieces cover topics such as women in baseball, ballpark vendors, and Murderers' Row (the 1927 New York Yankees, which is the program I usually do)."

Have you met any Hall of Famers? "I was very close to Phil Niekro and Cal Ripken Jr.. Mr. Ripken is a monster of a man. He looks like he could play. Mr. Niekro gave a tutorial on how to throw a knuckleball."

Are you a baseball fan? "I am a huge baseball fan. I grew up cheering on the St. Louis Cardinals. I was young when Mark McGuire was chasing records for home runs. It was a lot of excitement. My favorite Hall of Famer is Stan Musial, but my favorite current player is Yadier Molina. There is an area in our Baseball Timeline exhibit that's dedicated to Stan the Man. It has a number of his artifacts as well as his locker from the old Sportsman's Park in St. Louis.

What have you learned so far? "A great deal about the inner workings of museums. ... The weekly seminars are great, too. One of my favorites was given by Pat O'Conner, president of Minor League Baseball, who spoke about baseball connections and networking in the sports industry. It's a give-and-take relationship. My favorite saying of his was, 'Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.'"

Do you meet many visitors? "I deal directly with visitors every day. In the Learning Center and during our Hands on History Carts, we teach them about how baseball equipment has evolved. We also give daily Plaque Gallery tours, leading groups of about 10 to 25 visitors around the Plaque Gallery and telling them about the election process and how the plaques are made."

What do you get asked most when you are in the museum? "Where are the bathrooms?"

Will you have a part in the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies later this month? "Things are definitely starting to gear up. I am excited to have Tony LaRussa in town, but it would be exciting regardless. We have a large class this year with six living inductees (The others are Bobby Cox, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas and Joe Torre.) What do you do when you're not working? "Many of us interns like to go to the local baseball games and support the Oneonta Outlaws. We live at a local college, a 30-minute drive. There's no air conditioning, but summers are just beautiul here. We also get together nearly every day to play Frisbee and Wiffle Ball."

What's next? "I would live to continue working in sports. I worked in the football office at U of I. I love the team atmosphere. I love working with people, too."

Parents: Jane Bone and John Becker, of Belleville

Sibling: Philip Bone, 10

Favorite food: Ice cream

Favorite restaurant: "Imo's. I miss Imo's pizza."

What are you reading? "Right now, I'm working on 'The Hobbit.' It's very good so far. My favorite book is 'To Kill A Mockingbird,' and I like the Harry Potter series.

Major: History and Classical Civilizations

Do you play sports? "When I was little, I played softball. I played volleyball in high school for West."

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