Co-founder, Grassroots Baseball
“Grassroots baseball is where it all begins. It’s the excitement of getting your first glove. It’s the incredible sense of pride you feel from putting on your team’s cap and jersey. It’s meeting your teammates and the sense of being a part of something bigger. The Grassroots baseball experience provides a foundation for life on so many levels.”
Jeff Idelson spent 33 years in baseball, the last 25 with the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum in Cooperstown, New York. He served as president for the last 11 years, retiring after Hall of Fame Weekend in July.
He oversaw the daily operation of the non-profit, educational institution, whose mission is to honor excellence, preserve history and connect generations. The organization opened its doors in 1939 and today employs nearly 90 full-time staff members, welcoming an average of 300,000 visitors annually and more than 18 million patrons overall.
Jeff joined the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum on September 26, 1994, after 15 months as assistant vice president and senior press officer for the 1994 World Cup of soccer. Prior, Jeff served as director of media relations and publicity for the New York Yankees from 1989-1993, where he made every road trip and served as the liaison for local and national media to the team, front office and ownership.
The Newton, MA native began his professional career as an intern in the public relations department of the Boston Red Sox five days after graduating from Connecticut College in 1986, continuing work in the team’s public relations department in 1987-88. He also produced radio broadcasts for all Red Sox home games for the Red Sox Radio Network in 1987 and 1988, serving as the Flagship station’s liaison to the Red Sox’ charity, the Jimmy Fund.
Jeff cut his teeth as a center fielder in Newton Central Little League, retiring as a player at age 12, later becoming a vendor at Fenway Park.
Co-founder, Grassroots Baseball
“I’ve learned that the game is more than just a sport— it is dreams and aspirations for so many youngsters everywhere I go. The culture of baseball is so much bigger than just what happens on the field.”
From a small darkroom to the most iconic stadiums flooded with lights — Jean Fruth’s trajectory as one of baseball’s preeminent photographers has taken her on a round-the-horn tour of the sport’s most indelible landmarks.
First base was New York City, where as a student she fell in love with the alchemy of photography. Second base meant a move to Healdsburg, California, where her focus turned to portrait photography, both in-studio and on-location. From there, Jean covered the Giants and A’s for the better part of a decade, before turning her attention to the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum in Cooperstown, New York where she helped to build the museum’s profile and photo archive by contributing her work to the venerable institution over a three-year period. While shooting for the Hall of Fame, her year-round baseball calendar started with the Caribbean Series and then moved to spring training, MLB’s regular season and post season, then back to shooting grassroots baseball over the winter in Latin American countries.
“There is always baseball being played somewhere in the world every month of the year. It is my pleasure and truly an honor to be documenting with my camera, and telling the stories through my photos,” said Jean. “Capturing the action on the field is exhilarating, but there is so much more … including all of the people and places that are part of the game’s landscape, which provides a look inside the National Pastime and its many cultural subjects.”
Jean is a traveling photographer for La Vida Baseball, a digital media company that tells the story of Latino baseball across the United States and Latin America through original video, written and social content.
She is honored to be recognized by Sony as one of its 45 Sony Artisans of Imagery, worldwide.
Her book, Grassroots Baseball: Where Legends Begin, the first in a series, came out in June 2019 and is available for purchase here and in bookstores.
Executive Editor, Grassroots Baseball
“My father once told me that baseball was the only team sport that could be played by anyone; you don’t have to be very tall or very strong or very fast, as long as you could hit a round ball with a round bat, squarely (apologies to Ted Williams). I have played ball my entire life, from having a catch with my dad in the backyard to recently completing over 30 years on the softball fields of Central Park. It is more than grassroots, it is life.”
Steve Fine is the picture and sports editor at Flipboard, with more than 125 million monthly readers in 22 countries. He curates daily photo galleries around the world’s biggest events and creates interesting long-form packages on themes and issues in the sports world. In addition to leading the social strategy for major sporting events, including notifications, he maintains a magazine called “The Shot,” Flipboard’s destination for photography.
Prior to joining the Silicon Valley startup five years ago, Steve was the Director of Photography at Sports Illustrated for 17 years, leading a 25-member team of staff photographers and editors. Before that he was deputy picture editor at The New York Times Sunday Magazine and sports picture editor at the paper.
He lives and breathes in Manhattan and the Yankees are his passion.
National Spokesman, Grassroots Baseball
“Growing up in Colorado, I had a dream of playing in the big leagues. My dad would always say I was going to be there someday, but deep down, I just didn't believe it could happen. Well, it did, and it all started at the grassroots level. Some of my greatest memories of Little League rival any of those I experienced as a big leaguer, believe it or not. They were so special and they are still vivid. The grassroots game will always be near and dear to my heart.”
Rich “Goose” Gossage relied on a blistering fastball to completely devastate hitters for more than two decades, earning a reputation as one of baseball’s most endurable and successful relief pitchers. His respect for the game is profound, and there was no one greater on the mound than him when the chips were down.
Over 22 major league seasons, the 6'-3" right-hander with his signature Fu Manchu mustache, and a menacing stare whenever he stepped on to a pitching mound, sported a 3.01 ERA and 310 saves, including 56 of seven or more outs. Over 1,002 games and 1,809 1/3 innings pitched, he amassed 1,502 strikeouts.
After breaking in with the Chicago White Sox in 1972, Gossage went on to pitch for eight more teams, including the Cubs, Pirates, Padres, Giants, A’s, Cubs, Mariners and Yankees. Over six seasons in the Bronx (1978-83), he was a four-time All-Star, amassed 150 saves and posted a 2.10 ERA. He was on the mound to finish the 1978 playoff game against the Red Sox, and then again a few weeks later in Los Angeles in relief of his longtime friend Catfish Hunter, when the Yankees won the World Series.
The nine-time All-Star was rewarded for his career excellence, earning the prestigious honor of election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in 2008. Only 1% of all players to wear a major league uniform are represented in the Hall of Fame.
Today, Gossage lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with his wife Corna. He is active in the community promoting and sponsoring youth sports. Corna and Goose have three grown sons, who all live in Colorado, and enjoy hunting, fishing and golf with their dad. In 1995, the City of Colorado Springs dedicated the Rich “Goose’ Gossage Youth Sports Complex, which features five fields for youth baseball and softball competition.