Two Minutes with Dan Wallach
Sometimes, people find their dream job by accident. Sometimes, people find their dream job by making it their goal. Sometimes, people like Dan Wallach spend their entire life preparing for their dream job and not even know it existed.
Wallach is the executive director the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum and Baseball Library located just across Field Street from Flour Field. Recently reopened and expanded, Wallach is a one man walking, talking encyclopedia of all-things Shoeless Joe, the Upstate native with the third all-time highest batting average in Major League Baseball history, and likely most known for the two late 1980s movies that detailed his involvement or lack thereof in the plan to rig the 1919 World Series. Since then, Jackson’s Hall of Fame’s candidacy (he was banned from the sport in 1920) has been a major sports debate.
A life-long Chicago White Sox fan (and if you didn’t know that was the team that Jackson spent the bulk of his career with) and a graduate of Southern Illinois University, Wallach called radio play-by-play for six Salukis sports, in addition to hosting and appearing on multiple weekly radio shows.
After graduation, Wallach worked for a company that sold autographed sports memorabilia, which served to enhance his love of collecting. He has many collections of his own, including vinyl records, Michael Jordan jerseys, and all things Shoeless Joe Jackson. Many pieces from his personal collection can be found in the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum.
He also is the host of the podcast My Baseball History, which has exhibited his research and interview skills, and allowed the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum to be able to engage a global audience for the first time in its history.
Wallach recently answered a bunch of our questions about his hobbies, baseball lore and the how he ended up in Greenville and running the museum.
What are your favorite things to do on your days off?
Days off? What are those? Our museum is open seven days a week, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. When the Greenville Drive are in town and have home games, we stay open through the end of the game. I’m at the museum every minute that we’re open, so there are no days off!
What is one movie you’ve watched more than five times?
I can’t even begin to guess the number of times I’ve seen the movie Field Of Dreams. Is that too predictable?
What are three books you would bring with you to a deserted island?
1. Michael Jordan: The Life by Roland Lazenby
2. Scandal On The South Side by Jacob Pomrenke
3. How To Build A Wooden Boat by David C. “Bud” McIntosh
If you could only listen to one album for the rest of your life, what album would it be?
“Goddamnit” by Alkaline Trio
In your opinion, what’s the most rewarding part of working in your job?
Being able to teach people the true story about Joe’s life and career. Debunking the myths which have been perpetuated for more than 100 years now, and reeducating people about who Joe was as a person, not just as a ballplayer.
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be the shooting guard for the Chicago Bulls, and I wanted to wear number 7.
If you could be part of any sitcom family or friend-group, which would you choose?
Seinfeld, no question.
Tell us a funny story about you that most people don’t know?
I went on a foreign exchange to Germany when I was in high school, even though I didn’t speak a lick of German. I lived with a family for three weeks, and, other than the student who came to live with my family in Chicago, no one in their family spoke a lick of English.
Star Wars or Star Trek?
What are some of your favorite things to do in Greenville?
I love going to Greenville Drive games, and learning about the history of the textile mills.
How did you end up here in Greenville and what drew you to the post with the museum (besides being a baseball historian and fan)?
I grew up a White Sox fan in Chicago. In 2009, my parents retired and moved to Travelers Rest. The first time I came to visit them, the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum was about a year old. We love baseball history in general, but specifically the White Sox, so we decided to check it out.
While walking around inside, the original curator asked if I wanted to play in a vintage baseball game that weekend against the Ty Cobb Museum from Royston, Georgia. I said yes, and it was an incredible event. There were descendants from both Ty Cobb and Joe Jackson who either played in the game or attended the game. There were researchers, experts, and historians from all over the country. It just felt like someplace I was supposed to be.
I made it my excuse to come visit my parents every year so I could come back to Greenville and play in that game. In 2019, when the original curator was getting ready to retire, the Board of Directors asked if I wanted to move to Greenville and take the job. They had known me for nearly a decade, at that point, and knew there was no one better for this job. I said yes, and moved halfway across the country to become the new Executive Director.