Matt Nadel is one of MLB.com's youngest blogger. But he doesn't just contribute to the MLB website. Matt has also written an A-Z introduction to baseball history, Amazing Aaron to Zero Zippers, published by Summer Game Books. It's currently an eBook and will soon be out in paperback. Matt is donating all of the proceeds from the sale of the book to four baseball charities: The Jackie Robinson Foundation, the Hall of Fame Museum, the ALS Association, and the Turn 2 Foundation.
When he learned about Matt, we thought we should have one of our own baseball-obsessed Kid Reporters, Max Ferregur, chat with Matt about being a kid journalist and learn some tricks of the trade.
First, can you tell me a little about how you became the youngest pro blogger for MLB?
I started writing on my regular blog, baseballwithmatt.blogspot.com, in about April 2012. In October 2012, I was contacted via LinkedIn by John Thorne, the head historian of Major League Baseball. I interviewed him and then I talked to him and he ended up actually really liking my stuff. So he set me up with a MLB Pro Blog. And as it turned out I happened to be the youngest MLB pro blogger on the MLB’s Pro website.
You have written so much. Have you found it hard to juggle schoolwork while blogging?
I try to manage my schoolwork well and I think I do it just good enough.
Tell me how you came up with the idea to write your book?
After I had written over 50 posts, I had decided to put all of my posts into this Word document to hopefully one day turn it into a book. But I scrapped that idea and I decided to just basically write a baseball history book. So I came up with a manuscript for this alphabet book about baseball history. But I didn’t have a publisher and I did not want to self-publish. So, anyway, one of the blogs that I guest write for, Seamheads, the head of Seamheads, Mike Lynch, has a friend named Walter Freidman. Now, Freidman is the head publisher at Summer Games Books and Summer Game books was looking for authors. So, I said, I have a manuscript right here. After six months of editing, the book is now out.
In all the research that you have done, what is the most interesting thing that you learned about baseball past and present that most people probably don’t know today?
That’s a tough one. I’ll have to think about that. Give me a second... Oh, here’s one I just learned recently. Did you know that the New York Giants in 1957, after the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles, actually wanted to move to Minnesota first? But the owner of the Giants at the time changed his mind and wanted to move to San Francisco because they wanted to keep the rivalry of the Dodgers and Giants alive. So that’s past and probably the most interesting thing I have learned.
OK, so now present. How about Mike Trout’s nickname, the “Millville Meteor.” I did not know that his nickname was the Millville Meteor and I didn’t know that the reason he is nicknamed that is because a lot of people compared him to Mickey Mantle. Now, Mantle’s nickname is the Commerce Comet because he was from Commerce, Oklahoma, and Trout is actually from Millville, New Jersey, so they copied the same kind of nickname. So I thought that was pretty interesting.
Wow, that’s pretty cool. How do you prepare to interview someone?
When I am interviewing someone, I research them a lot. What I try to do is, if it is a baseball player, I try to talk about the highlights of their career but I also want to talk about their personal stuff. What did you like to play when you were growing up? What do you like to do now? Do you have any kids? Because it is not exactly an interview for me. I like to think of it as a conversation. I want to get to know the guy. For someone like [former President] George HW Bush, for example, I wanted to ask to him about his presidency, about his favorite baseball stuff, and also just personal questions. I try to research a lot and try to come up with practical questions to get a good conversation going.
And, for baseball, do you have a favorite resource you use?
I use the Baseball Hall of Fame website when I am blogging about Hall of Famers. But, for just stats, I like using BaseballReference.com because it gives you a lot of in-depth stats and it is very easy to use.
For me, as a SI Kids Kid Reporter and a Jr. Dodger Broadcaster, I have found that everyone from the athletes to management have treated me like a pro and not just as a kid who loves sports. What’s your experience been like?
That’s an interesting question. Yeah, I am treated like any other regular reporter. But, of course, I am just 15 years old. But yeah, I am treated just like any other regular reporter.
One thing, or tip, I learned from interviewing baseball players is that almost all the players from Giancarlo Stanton to future players like Kris Bryant have said they got where there are today by working hard. Do you have any tips for kids that want to be like you?
If you want to blog about sports, first I would be involved in social media as much as you can, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Intsagram, LinkedIn — anything like that. Make sure you keep posting stuff on your blog. Make sure, no matter what, you stay persistent. You're going to get great interviews eventually. Keep on putting out consistent content. Always post as much as you can on a consistent basis. Make sure your posts are unique. You also don’t want to plagiarize or talk about something you just saw in the newspaper. And, lastly, just do something you love to do. I love blogging about baseball history, if I didn’t I would have never started the blog in the first place. The reason I started it is because I want to teach kids about baseball history and it is something I find very enjoyable. Make sure you blog about something you love.
Talking about what you love, I love playing fantasy baseball. Do you think Fantasy Baseball has helped the game of baseball, like kids knowing more about players and stats?
Yes, Fantasy Baseball is a great way to get involved with stats. And it also is a great way to make new friends. I have made a lot of friends joining just random fantasy baseball leagues. Yeah, I like fantasy baseball. It is a great thing. Fantasy Football and Fantasy Basketball I like a little bit better. But, Fantasy Baseball I think is good because you constantly have to change your lineup. You always have to keep on checking the lineup because of injuries and because, of course, baseball is 162 games and they are basically all consecutive. You have to be very involved with your league. So it gives you something to do if you do not have anything to do usually.
Last question: Who’s going to win the World Series next year?
Next year... That’s a tough one. It’s not going to be the Giants. I know that because since 2010 they do not do well in the odd number years and they do great in the even number years. I picked the A’s over the Braves this season and that was totally off. Let’s go with all of Los Angeles. How about that? The Angels vs. Dodgers and the Angels will win in seven.
Photos courtesy Matt Nadel