The executives at Major League Baseball worry that the game is losing young fans at a rapid pace. One of the key issues is that games are too long, often lasting past kids’ bedtimes. This is particularly true during the post-season when games start even later to accommodate broadcasters.
Sixteen-year-old Matt Nadel bucks that prediction. The Golda Och Academy sophomore recently published Amazing Aaron to Zero Zippers: An Introduction to Baseball History in an attempt to renew interest in the national pastime for a younger demographic.
Nadel — who lives in Springfield with his parents, Debbie and Steve, and sister, Amanda, and attends Temple Beth Ahm Yisrael — started a blog, “Baseball with Matt,” in 2012, just weeks after his bar mitzva. He has become a bit of a media sensation, appearing on the MLB Network and gaining access to numerous baseball personalities, past and present.
NJJN: What was your introduction to baseball?
Nadel: In 2007, the Yankees played the Indians in the American League Divisional Series. I didn’t know much about baseball but I watched the games and really enjoyed it. I watched 2008 weekend Yankee games and watched more than half of the 2009 Yankee games, the year they beat the Phillies in the World Series. I’ve been in love with the game ever since.
NJJN: Did you do a lot of reading about the game?
Nadel: Around the same time as the 2007 ALDS, I started reading a lot of books about the great Yankees, like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, and Mickey Mantle. They were biographies for kids but I learned a lot. From those books, I [discovered] famous baseball players like Ty Cobb and Willie Mays.
NJJN: You seem to be more interested in the history of the game than other aspects? Why is that?
Nadel: I love baseball history…because it’s so rich. It dates all the way back to the Civil War and ties in a lot with American history…. To me, out of the four major American sports, baseball…has the coolest characters, most invigorating moments, and most interesting stories.
NJJN: How did you go about getting the book published?
Nadel: After I’d written about 50 blog posts, I started copying the posts into a Word document, to maybe turn it into a book one day. When I got to about 100 posts, I decided to write the book. Since I loved A-Z alphabet books as a kid, I thought that would be a good format for a baseball history introduction.
I wrote the first draft with that format over about three months. After a bunch of edits, we were unable to find a publisher. But I didn’t want to self-publish. Luckily, Mike Lynch from Seamheads (a blog I guest write for) told us that Summer Game Books was looking for writers. We contacted Walter Friedman, the main guy there, and he liked my book idea and decided to publish it. I was very honored that [Hall of Fame pitcher] Jim Palmer agreed to write the foreword. Also, since I’m just 16, make some money from babysitting, and don’t have many expenses, I thought it would be a good idea to donate the book proceeds to four baseball charities: ALS Association, Turn 2 Foundation, the Hall of Fame, and the Jackie Robinson Foundation. I’ve been very fortunate, and thought this would be a great way to give back a little.
NJJN: Have you thought about a career path yet?
Nadel: I really want to be a broadcaster, but if that doesn’t work out, I want to stay involved with the game of baseball in any way, shape, or form.