Museum Fields: Q&A with Mary Bellew

Hall of Fame's Assistant Registrar
discusses her role in Cooperstown

December 11, 2009

Each month, Museum Fields will introduce you to a staff member at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, taking you inside the daily operation of Cooperstown to get inside the thinking of members from the Museum's multitalented staff. For the month of December, we feature Assistant Registrar Mary Bellew.

Mary Bellew is the assistant registrar at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. (Milo Stewart Jr./National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)

What role do you play in helping the Museum preserve history, honor excellence and connect generations?

MARY BELLEW: My job involves the processing and maintenance of the Museum’s three dimensional pieces. By caring for the artifacts and recording the history and donor’s story on each piece, we are actively preserving history, honoring the excellence of players’ performance and character while creating a permanent record for future generations.

What are your high points of your experiences at the Museum?

BELLEW: I enjoy speaking with the people who have their own precious memories or actual pieces of baseball history. It is fun to listen to their stories and give them pointers about caring for what they have.

What is the most difficult part about working in collections at the Hall of Fame?

BELLEW: The only difficult part is hearing the disappointment on the other end of the phone when I tell someone that their prized autographed item, now faded, cannot be restored. I hope that someday, science/technology will advance to change that.

Mary Bellew - Assistant Registrar

 Birthplace: Winfield, KS
 Hall of Fame Debut: 1995 (part time)  1997 (full time)
 Position: Assistant Registrar
 Bats: Right
 Throws: Right
 Favorite Team: Chicago Cubs (by pre-nuptial agreement)
 Favorite Hall of Famer: That changes all the time. My favorite is the Hall of Famer on whose artifact I’m currently working or researching. Today it’s Robin Roberts.
 Favorite Artifact or Exhibit: Mrs. Gehrig’s bracelet from her husband Lou, fashioned from the various All-Star & MVP pins and rings awarded to him.

What is your favorite part of working at the Museum?

BELLEW: I love being able to share the passion of baseball with so many different people from all over the world. We all come from different backgrounds and life experiences, but Baseball is a universal language. I especially enjoy trying to find something of interest in our collection that will be appreciated by the least interested visitor. Often people think of the Hall of Fame as strictly “baseball” and are surprised that we house much more than bats, gloves and baseballs. We house “culture” and share stories about everyday people.

What made you want to work in baseball?

BELLEW: I’ve always enjoyed baseball. My dad played semi-pro ball, my older brothers played baseball all through school and my nephew even had a “cup of coffee” with the San Diego Padres and is a member of the Cape Cod League Hall of Fame. The opportunity arose for me and I knew it would be a perfect fit.

What is your favorite story involving an artifact?

BELLEW: Several years ago, Reggie Jackson was in Cooperstown filming a spot on the Hall of Fame. At the same time, Phil Rizzuto and his wife were visiting. I was giving the Rizzutos a tour of the Collection Storage area and Phil asked about the glove he had donated. I explained that his glove was in my office because Reggie planned to use it in his presentation. We quickly devised a scheme to have Phil personally deliver his glove to Reggie. Phil slowly walked toward Reggie carrying his glove in his outstretched arms like a tray of crystal stemware. Reggie looked up, did a double take and said with great surprise and pleasure, “Scooter, is that you?” The scene as the two Yankees from different generations embraced was priceless. Every time I see Phil’s glove, I think of that moment and smile.

If you weren’t working at the Hall of Fame, what would you be doing?

BELLEW: Most likely I’d still be a Legal Assistant.

How has your thinking changed in working with baseball history?

BELLEW: I always knew that baseball was a part of the American culture. What I never thought about was just how much of the American “story” has been touched by baseball.

What do you like most about Cooperstown?

BELLEW: Even though Cooperstown is a small village, it offers a lot. It is home to a beautiful lake, picturesque Main Street, opera, an art museum, Farmers’ Museum, great restaurants, friendly neighbors and of course, Baseball.

Samantha Carr is the media relations coordinator at the National baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

25 Main Street, Cooperstown, NY 13326
Phone: 1-888-HALL-OF-FAME | Fax: 607-547-2044
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