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By Ron Kaplan
New Jersey Jewish News 

At bat with Matt

 


A generation ago, kids Matt Nadel’s age would be content collecting baseball cards. But in 2013 Matt is making baseball news. Making and reporting it.

At 14, Matt is the youngest “pro blogger” on MLB.com, writing not about his favorite contemporary players, or even those his dad, Steve, followed as a kid, but back to the days of Ruth, Cobb and Mathewson.

“It gives me a much more thrilling feeling to study the background and history of the game,” said Matt, an eighth-grader at Golda Och Academy in West Orange, N.J. who lives in Springfield, N.J.

“My grandpa came from Europe when he was about 19 and he fell in love with Willie Mays. So I’m guessing, when Willie became a Met [in 1972], he passed along the ‘Willie-loving genes’ to my dad and my dad probably thought about the players that [Mays] played with. And so he knew some baseball history and the players of his day and I eventually learned all the players they knew and then some. So I guess the love of baseball history comes from my grandpa.”

Knowing that today’s younger fans aren’t well versed in the rich history of the national pastime, Matt said, “I wanted my friends who really didn’t know a lot about baseball history, so I figured, what better way to teach kids about [it] than to write a blog about it.”

He started off small by creating baseballwithmatt.blogspot.com. As it grew in popularity, he gravitated to a pro blogger site through MLB.com, the official website of Major League Baseball at the suggestion of John Thorn, the official historian of MLB. In an email to the New Jersey Jewish News, Thorn wrote, “I suggested to him that by posting at MLB, he might widen his audience (a good thing for him) and communicate to kids the pleasures of knowing a thing or two about the game’s past (a good thing for everyone, not least of all me).”

Nadel blogs two or three times a week. He reposts some of the entries to other websites. His father, Steve, an attorney, helps him with the grammar and has also been able to help Matt get some of the interviews he has conducted via email, over the phone, or in person, including Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio, Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer, and perennial All-Star Fred Lynn. “It’s really cool. I get to call up the players and coaches and ask them questions.”

Matt does not receive payment for his posts at the MLB site, but he is one of the younger professional writers around, contributing a couple of articles a month for the online New Jersey Baseball Magazine. Matt and his dad attended an event at Temple B’nai Abraham in Livingston, N.J., in January at which Greg Amsinger, a host at the MLB Network, was the featured speaker. Matt spoke with Amsinger and impressed him so much he was invited to appear on the Hot Stove program. “I had a lot of fun and I hope to do it again. I’m happy that people watched it, I’m happy that people know about me, and I’m just happy I got to talk to some of the great guys at the MLB Network.”

Eventually, Matt—who attends Temple Beth Ahm Yisrael in Springfield with his father, mother Debbie, and sister Amanda—would like to do a book. He’s working on a project with the tentative title “25 Most Important Things Kids Should Know About Baseball History” and has approached Marty Appel, former director of public relations for the New York Yankees and head of his own PR firm, for help. He’d also liked to see his blog posts collected and published in some more permanent format, “before I retire [from blogging], which won’t be for a long time, don’t worry.”

To see a clip of Matt Nadel on the MLB Network, go to tinyurl.com/MattMLB.

Ron Kaplan is the features editor for The New Jersey Jewish News.

 

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