Summer internship provides recent grad with opportunity to cover favorite sport

(Editor's note: This is the 11th in a series of stories about students in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications completing summer internships.)

A young Matt Martell growing up in upstate New York used to rush through eating his dinner every night so he could run to the TV at 7 p.m. and watch the New York Yankees.

“I was only allowed to watch until bedtime, which was 9 o’clock, and so I wanted to maximize the amount of time I got to watch the Yankees,” Martell said.

Before the age of four, Martell had the Yankees batting order memorized down to every last detail. Martell would then use this information the next day for his big driveway Wiffle ball game between himself, representing every Yankees player, and his father, representing every St. Louis Cardinals player.

Martell would pretend to be each Yankees player in the lineup, keeping statistics written out in chalk on the driveway to later be added to his official scorebook. For the continued sake of authenticity, Martell would bat left-handed or right-handed dependent on which player he was pretending to be.

Now, Martell gets to say he is living out his childhood dream, watching and writing about baseball almost every day. This summer, Martell, a recent Penn State journalism graduate from the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications, is interning with MLB.com covering the Chicago Cubs. Mandy Bell, who graduated with a journalism degree in May, is also interning with MLB.com covering the New York Yankees.

For his internship, Martell gets the opportunity to attend press conferences with the team manager, write pregame and postgame stories from the press box for the Cubs and occasionally other teams as well, update and monitor social media and sometimes cover special events.

Baseball has always been a constant in Martell’s life. From learning math through calculating batting averages to learning to read the newspaper by looking for game updates, Martell has a lot of reasons to thank his favorite sport.

“I’ve just learned and grown up and developed in every kind of aspect I would’ve had to in some form through baseball,” Martell said. “It really has been my life. Regardless of what I’m doing, I’ve always had baseball.”

Throughout his Penn State career, Martell wrote for the Daily Collegian where he was the football editor for the Collegian for two years.

John Affleck, the director of the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism, worked closely with Martell on several projects throughout his college career. He said Martell really stood out immediately as a great all-around sports reporter.

“He’s just one of these kids who really researches his topic really well, and he’s well-read, prepares really well, takes criticism very professionally and works hard to improve,” Affleck said. “He was just one of those students who, by the time they graduate, are completely professionally ready for whatever position they can get.”

Last summer, Martell completed the same internship he has now with MLB.com covering his favorite team, the Yankees. He said MLB.com wants participants in the internship program to branch out and gain different experiences each year.

“There are different characters, different personalities, and you’ve got to be able to manage them all if you want to stick around in baseball writing,” Martell said. “It’s a cool experience in that regard, because I got to battle the hectic New York media last year and be a part of it, when you’re competing with 40, 50 different outlets at every Yankees game. That was very hustle and bustle, and now I get a different perspective of, there are less media members covering the Cubs, but it’s still a big media market, so it’s cool to see the different aspects of each market and how different places cover their teams.”

So far, Martell said the biggest and most important lesson he has learned from working at MLB.com this summer is to take the time to make his coverage stand out.

“Because there are so many notable outlets getting it out, the biggest fans that read about each team go to multiple platforms. If they don’t go to a site or a certain writer, it’s because they don’t like the content that’s coming out, not because it’s not coming out quick enough,” Martell said. “It’s a matter of just slowing down and making my stuff better. I’ve learned to do that more this year than any other year.”

Martell said his dream job would be working as a baseball feature writer because he loves telling stories.

“That’s one thing I think I’ve always had a knack for is storytelling and telling stories for people,” Martell said. “If that’s in baseball, I think I can do that, but if I have to go to a different sport or a different type of news altogether, I’ll do that. I want to tell stories that are longer and more in-depth that matter to people.”

Last Updated August 08, 2018