Access to star athletes can be difficult even for public radio sports show hosts who have been on the air for over two decades, but it has not yet been a problem for reporter Haley Smilow of Sports Illustrated Kids. Miss Smilow, 12, has interviewed more than 20 big leaguers, and she joined Bill Littlefield.
BL: Now you’ve done over 20 interviews, do you have a favorite among those 20?
HS: My favorite interviews would be with A.J. Pierzynski cause he’s a good family guy. Kris Medlen, and he also gave me his hat. Garrett Jones because he was in the minors for a very long time, and I learned a lot from him. And Ian Kadish – a minor league player – getting to talk to a guy who’s still trying to accomplish his dreams.
BL: We’ve got some tape her of you interviewing Toronto Blue Jays reliever Casey Janssen in Sept. 2012.
HS: What’s your favorite thing to cook?
CJ: I enjoy cooking chicken or steak at home on the barbecue.
HS: That sounds like a lot of work for a baseball player because half of the players I interview say they don’t even know how to cook.
BL: I love that response from Janssen because it’s so honest. How do you prepare for your interviews so you don’t get the same old boring answers that the rest of us get when we talk to baseball players?
HS: I prepare by researching baseball players and then I also look at previous interviews I’ve done to see if any questions make sense for them, and I look at all the regular questions to make sure I don’t ask the same questions as most of the people do.
BL: Well that’s very wise. Did you know that Casey Janssen was a guy who enjoyed barbecuing?
HS: No, I did not know that before I went into the interview, but I had a feeling that he either knew how to cook or didn’t.
BL: You’ve had a lot of experience interviewing Major Leaguers already, but do you look ahead, perhaps, to a dream interview?
HS: A dream interview would be Mariano Rivera, who’s retired, from the Yankees. Or Derek Jeter because I’m a big Yankees fan.
BL: Do you have any advice for other 12-year-olds who might be looking to a career in sports journalism?
HS: I would say to them stay confident in yourself. Think about what you can do and don’t give up and say ‘I quit’ or ‘this is too hard.’ I know it’s a lot of extra work but it does pay off and it is a fun thing to do.
BL: Do you think you’re going to stay with it? Is this what you intend to do when you grow up?
HS: I like it a lot, and I don’t know. Things do change but it is something fun and something everybody asks me and my true answer is I don’t know. And maybe, maybe not, but I do enjoy doing it as of now.