Interviews

From Marty Lurie’s archives of thousands of hours of recorded interviews come these selected American Innings interviews. We hope you enjoy these stories about baseball, which demonstrate the tightly-woven connection between baseball and American history.

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Gino Cimoli on Being the First Major League Batter in California

Gino Cimoli, a San Francisco native, shares how he became the very first major leaguer to bat in the state of California. A character in the North Beach neighborhood of the City, Gino signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers and worked his way up to the major league team. He had the honor of scoring the last run ever at Ebbets Field, the home of the Brooklyn Dodgers, on September 24, 1957, just before the Dodgers moved West to take advantage of the booming Los Angeles market and the increased ability for teams to travel by air. With both the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers now resident in the state, the first California major league baseball game was played on April 15, 1958, in San Francisco. When Dodgers’ manager Walter Alston approached Gino and told him he would be the first major league batter in California, Gino protested. He wasn’t a leadoff hitter, why would he be the first batter? Walt responded, “you’re a San Franciscan, and we want you to have that honor.” And the rest is baseball history.

Jack Dorsey, Twitter Founder, on Revolutionizing Baseball and Returning it to its Roots

Jack Dorsey, founder of Twitter, shares in this 2010 interview what his vision was for his media and social networking tool that revolutionized the way people communicated—and how they communicated about baseball. Dorsey, a huge baseball fan, explains how it all started in 2006 and how he kicked off a social media revolution that found its way to the ballpark. At the time of baseball’s founding, players and fans mingled freely. As time passed, baseball players became distant and walled off from the fans. Now, fans can communicate with each other instantaneously and give man-on-the-street accounts from all over the stadium. And, athletes can update in real time, engaging with their fan community on a platform open to all. Twitter reconnects fans with players, connects fans from all walks of life, and returns it to its roots by making it accessible again.

John Madden, Hall of Fame Broadcaster, on Growing Up as a Baseball-Loving Kid in San Francisco

John Madden, an iconic sports personality and San Francisco Bay Area native, explains what it was like to grow up in San Francisco as a fan in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the post-World War II era and the innocent age of baseball. As a fan of the San Francisco Seals, the local minor league team, Madden went to games almost every day during the summer. He reminisces about the sights and smells of the ballpark, getting cherished autographs, and a most amazing day he spent with another legendary San Francisco native and local sports hero, Lefty O’Doul.