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Dale A. Petroskey (born August 17, 1955) is the former Executive Vice President of Marketing for the Texas Rangers baseball club. He is a former executive of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and the National Geographic Society, and a former political appointee in the administration of United States President Ronald Reagan.
Early professional career
Petroskey graduated from Michigan State University in 1978, and worked in the White House from 1985 to March 1987 as Assistant Press Secretary under Ronald Reagan. Before working for Reagan he was assistant press secretary for the Michigan House Republican caucus, then chief of staff for Representative William F. Goodling, a Republican from Pennsylvania. After serving Reagan he was assistant secretary of public affairs at the United States Department of Transportation under Secretary Elizabeth Dole. Then he served as a senior executive at the National Geographic Society from 1988 to 1999.
National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
Petroskey was elected to the Presidency of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum on June 15, 1999, and he resigned March 25, 2008.
During his tenure as the President of the Hall, Petroskey was credited with expanding membership and fundraising, furthering educational efforts and outreach, and establishing a closer relationship with the business of baseball (which is to say, Major League Baseball itself) with which the Hall had not always been on the best of terms. Under his leadership, the Hall completed a major renovation and modernization, which was completed in 2005 at a cost of $20 million.
He has also been credited for the Hall's recent initiatives to increase and further recognition of the contributions of Negro League players, managers, and executives, continuing an effort first broached by Hall of Famer --and Negro Leaguer-- Jackie Robinson. A five-year program resulted in the elevation of 17 Negro Leaguers to members of the Hall of Fame.
"Bull Durham" censorship controversy
In April 2003, one month after the start of the Iraq War, Petroskey caused a furor when he canceled an event meant to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the well-known 1988 baseball movie Bull Durham because of the anti-war stance of two of its stars, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, fearing that they would use the event as a platform for their political views.
Petroskey, a former assistant press secretary in the Reagan administration, sent Robbins and Sarandon a letter that said: "We believe your very public criticism of President Bush at this important - and sensitive - time in our nation's history helps undermine the U.S. position, which ultimately could put our troops in even more danger." Robbins responded: "Long live democracy, free speech and the '69 Mets - all improbable, glorious miracles that I have always believed in."
Many people, including well-known baseball figures like authors Roger Kahn and Jules Tygiel, were upset by what they saw as an attempt to punish political speech. Kahn canceled an appearance at the Hall and Tygiel called for Petroskey's resignation.
Bull Durham co-star Kevin Costner defended Robbins and Sarandon, saying, "I think Tim and Susan's courage is the type of courage that makes our democracy work... Pulling back this invite is against the whole principle about what we fight for and profess to be about."
Resignation from Hall of Fame Presidency
His resignation was tendered under pressure in March, 2008 for "fail[ing] to exercise proper fiduciary responsibility" while making "judgments that were not in the best interest of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum."
Petroskey was replaced by one of his vice-presidents, Jeff Idelson.
- The Associated Press, April 19, 2003, "Hall president apologizes for not calling actors before canceling event"
- Walker, Ben (Apr 11, 2003). "Hall president reiterates stance; author Kahn cancels Cooperstown trip". USA Today. Retrieved Mar 23, 2011.
- Enders, Eric (Summer 2003). Petroskey Shames Hall 20 (3). Elysian Fields Quarterly. Retrieved 2011-03-23.
- Jack O'Connell. "HOF president Petroskey resigns". MLB.com.