WEB EXTRA: Hall of Famer speaks at National Geographic

Recent Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Ozzie Smith headlined a lecture and book signing Monday night at National Geographic headquarters at 16th and M streets.

Hall of Fame President Dale Petroskey joined Smith to discuss “Baseball as America: Seeing Ourselves Through Our National Game,” a new book which chronicles the social history of baseball.

Addressing an audience of more than 100 people, Smith told stories of his childhood and baseball career.

“I don’t like to emphasize that I grew up poor because we’ve all heard that story before,” Smith said. “I think what’s more important is what you do when you’re given opportunities.”

Petroskey called the book “the best baseball book we’ve ever done, and we’ve seen quite a few baseball books at the Hall of Fame.”

The former National Geographic Vice President also began singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during an hour-long lecture on the history of baseball, prompting the audience to join in unison.

The book was published jointly by National Geographic and the Baseball Hall of Fame and features commentary from Jackie Robinson, Tom Brokaw, Paul Simon, John Grisham and others.

After his lecture, Petroskey expressed support for a potential Washington, D.C. major league baseball team in a question and answer session with the audience.

“If it were up to me, (they would bring a team here) next year,” he said. “The economic situation is so different from when the Senators left, with the monuments right there they could build the most beautiful ballpark in America.”

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