By Greg Klein STAFF WRITER
---- — Eric Feingold had the perfect vantage-point to see that he wanted to pursue the Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program at the National Baseball Hall of Fame: The Cooperstown Graduate Program at State University College at Oneonta.
Feingold, a Pittsburgh native and 2010 University of Vermont graduate, was already living in Cooperstown — he started his two-year graduate program last fall — when he applied for the internship. Now as the curatorial intern, he has a rarely seen vantage point on Cooperstown: The HOF baseball archives.
“There’s a lot of really cool stuff down there,” Feingold said. “You know the stuff above ground in the museum is neat, but that’s probably about 10 percent of the collection. It is amazing how much more is under your feet.”
Feingold said part of his duties is to get artifacts ready for Induction Weekend, catering in part to the living Hall of Famers who might want to see certain items during their visit. He is also doing research on Wendell Smith, a prominent African-American sportswriter who helped Jackie Robinson.
“I am loving my time here already,” he said. “Some times I have to remind myself it is work.”
Feingold also works at the Fenimore Art Museum. His first year in the graduate program included some research and follow up for the second-year students’ project on Bud Fowler.
“It is a real testament to Cooperstown, to be able to have an event like that, to rename a street, to be able to bring back history. I think it was a great way for them to honor a local like Bud Fowler,” he said.
Feingold’s own senior thesis is still in the planning stages, although he said he is playing with ideas about the urban renewal of a section of Pittsburgh that “wiped out a cultural part of the city.” He will also work with his classmates on an exhibition project similar to the Fowler kiosk and presentation.
Feingold said he started college as an anthropology major thinking he might go into archaeology. After going on a dig his freshman year, he started thinking about ways to pursue the same ideas in a different field.
“I had a good time on the dig, but I began to think it wasn’t something I wanted to do my whole life,” he said. “At the same time, I had a passion for the objects. I thought maybe I could do something with museums. The nice thing for me is it happened early enough for me to change my focus in time.”
During college, Feingold also worked in a program at the Senator John Heinz History Center. The museum is the biggest in Pennsylvania, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and partner of the Vatican.
“It is a nice regional history museum,” Feingold said, “so it really gave me an appreciation for what my hometown had to offer and how it was important historically to the region.”
In his free time, Feingold likes the outdoors, especially camping and backpacking. Between college and the graduate program, he backpacked across Europe, going across Ireland as well as northern and central Europe.
In another year, Feingold said he hopes to find a museum to call his own. While he misses home, he is also open to staying locally.
“I do think of myself as a city person at heart, but I really do appreciate the small-town vibe of Cooperstown. With three top notch museums in town, it is a great place to have my foot in the door.”