Interviews, one year later

One year ago, I posted my first interview with the wonderful Jerry Dale. Then, over the course of a year, I did eight more. It’s been one of the most enjoyable parts of writing this blog. I’ve had a chance to speak with some really special people. I’d like to continue doing these interviews for the next 70 years or so.

My inspiration for this was Jeff Pearlman’s Quaz. Jeff is a former writer for Sports Illustrated, he’s a big-wig author of some best-selling books, he writes an excellent and weird blog, and he’s got his own Wikipedia page, so he’s able to snag some quality talent (though I’m quite proud of the guests I’ve booked!). He does one of these every week. I can’t even imagine. I’ve done nine in a year.

A few of my loyal readers have asked me how I get these people to do an interview. It’s simple. I use this awesome internet tool called Google, I find their contact information, I fly to their location, I show up at their doorstep, and I force them to answer questions. If that doesn’t work, I send them a nice email and hope for the best.

I do all of the interviews over the phone. I call the person, or they call me. I put the phone on speaker and record it in on my laptop. There’s usually some chit-chat at the beginning, and I re-introduce myself so that they don’t forget who they’re talking to, and then I dive right into it. Most of the calls last about 30 minutes.

Then I begin the painstaking operation of typing it all up.

I take a lot of pride in my preparation. I’ll spend hours combing through other interviews they’ve done, I’ll read up on their life story, and then I do my best to formulate interesting and thought provoking questions. Many of them are the same – What’s your story? How did this happen? What’s next for you? But, I also try to give each interview its own distinct flavor.

I geeked out the most over Aaron Small. The guy singlehandedly saved the 2005 Yankees. He’s also the nicest guy ever. When I told him how old I was, he called me a young pup.

Eddy Elfenbein continues to fight the good fight over at Crossing Wall Street. I loved his answer to what we can expect over the next four decades:

I am always an optimist. I think we are going to have a very robust stock market. I think there are going to be tons of innovative companies that will bring us lots of new toys to play with. I think people will live longer and they will be healthier, and I think it will be a more peaceful world. I think the market is a great place to be and will continue to be a great place to be. The free exchange on the market is one of the great inventions in human history.

Arthur Chu is my hero. He was a Jeopardy champion 11 times and did it in such a unique and awesome way. Many devoted fans criticized his Forrest Bounce strategy. He tried to put this in perspective.  I think being willing to accept that not everyone might like you is part of not going crazy with this stuff.

Sean Forman created the greatest website on the internet – baseball-reference.com. He also named three really random baseball players when we talked: Arquimedez Pozo, Wayne Gomes, and Brook Fordyce.

Lois Lowry wrote The Giver, one of the most popular children’s books of all time. In my interview, she successfully spoke the words pedantic and moralistic without coming across as pretentious. When I asked her what her goals were, she said: I hope my brain doesn’t start to atrophy.

Susan Bennett is the original voice of Siri and indulged me by saying this in her Siri voice.

Lucas Gray is an animator on the Simpsons. I like drawing some of the weirder characters. Mr. Burns is kind of challenging to draw. I feel like when I get him, it’s a bit of a victory. Moe is a weird one, I like him. Barney. I like drawing Grandpa.

Marty Schwartz taught me the guitar via the internet. He also was the first person to go “off the record,” which made me feel really cool.

But my favorite interview was the first one with Mr. Jerry Dale.

A brief refresher on how I managed to find Jerry Dale – back in April 2014, I wrote a blog post about a baseball game in 1972 where Dock Ellis tried to hit every hitter on the Reds. Ellis was eventually removed from the game after five batters. I asked myself – who was the home plate umpire that night? because that’s the type of thing I ask myself. I went to Google. I found out it was Jerry Dale. I found out he was still alive. I then found out he retired from baseball, moved to Africa, and became an African safari tour guide. And then I thought: I need to talk to this man.

And, boy, did we talk. We spent a good hour on the phone. He told me about the game, about his career in baseball, about his life in Africa. And then we became something like pen pals.

A few weeks later, Jerry sent me this email:

Hi Jeffrey,

I want to send you a book that you cannot live without.  Don’t want to tell
you what it’s about, will surprise you with one of the top books in the USA.

I wondered, what could it be? A New York Times best-seller? 50 Shades of Grey? Harry Potter? A few weeks later, this arrived:

IMG_0219

Thanks, Jerry.

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