One of the things I missed most about not blogging here regularly was the opportunity to conduct these podcast interviews. There’s always someone interesting to talk with a bout their new project, be it a book, a move, a musical album, etc.
I spoke with Joe Siegman as a major player in the U.S. Maccabi movement for my forthcoming books. What I did not realize at the time, although I had corresponded with Siegman for years in conjunction with the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in Netanya, Israel, which he founded, was that he did so as in part to help the Maccabi USA as a fund-raising mechanism. He published several editions of Jewish Sports Legends: The International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, 4th Edition, but what I wanted to talk to him about, in the purview of this site, was his new book, Bats, Balls, and Hollywood Stars: Hollywood’s Love Affair with Baseball.
You see, Siegman has been one of Hollwyood’s premier publicity agents, the kind who knows everyone and can call in favors at the snap of a finger. So when he got involved with the Hollywood Night of Stars, a series of exhibition baseball games that were popular from the mid-1960s until fairly recently, he found himself a popular fellow. Celebrities desperately wanted to appear in these affairs, played before regularly scheduled Dodgers games, and Siegman was one of the men to make that happen.
Bats, Balls and Hollywood Stars is a fun coffee table book full of pictures of such baseball fans and self-acclaimed players as Kevin Costner, Tom Selleck, Billy Crystal, Corbin Bernsen. These are people we’ve all see in some of the better baseball flicks over the years. But Bob Newhart? Steve Martin? Kareem Abdul Jabbar? Granted, some of these celebrities will be remembered mostly by baby boomers, but it’s still a kick.
I spoke with Siegman, an amazing raconteur, recently about the challenges of putting these games together, and some of the better celebrity-athletes.