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Volume 22 No. 32
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Plugged In: Phil Hochberg

Phil Hochberg is a longtime Washington lawyer who has spent his career advising a who’s who list of sports and media clients, including the NFL, NBA, NHL and NASCAR. But for more than a decade, Hochberg has followed a different passion as well, spending his off hours convincing the biggest names in sports to give talks at the Smithsonian. The next program is Sept. 24 with MLB Commissioner Emeritus Bud Selig at the National Museum of Natural History.

I worked for two years to try and put together a Bud Selig program. The changes in baseball while he was commissioner — positive and in some respects negative — were so significant. I’d like to hear him talk about his successes and his failures. He agreed to do it.

Photo by: LORI SWIM
How this interview series started: Curt Smith, who wrote “Voices of the Game,” put together a tremendous program on baseball announcers. I helped him with some of the contacts. This must have been 20 years ago. Curt left town shortly thereafter. I picked up on the Smithsonian concept and began proposing programs to them.

How the topics are selected: Book publishers in the past have been generally receptive to the idea of having their folks out promoting books that are being published. I’ve done a number of book programs: Bill James; Jane Levy on her [Mickey] Mantle book; we got Jim Bouton and Marty Appel to join us. I do a lot of baseball reading and a lot of sports reading. I always look at sports books as being a possible source. They want to promote the book, we want to promote a program.

His favorite talk: We had Joe Torre three years ago. We sold out Lisner Auditorium: 1,500 plus standing room. And Torre was terrific. He’s such a likable guy. We have found that baseball is a draw, although we did have David Stern down here a little over a year ago when he was doing his victory tour.

Who’s on his wish list: I’d love to do the five commissioners, with Don Garber being the fifth, or maybe sixth with the NCAA.

Why he does this: Because it’s fun, and because I have time. As I’m in the latter days of my practice, I find that it is a great deal of fun when you can pull it off.

— John Ourand