For those who attended Hall of Fame induction ceremonies the past eight years, Dale Petroskey was the guy who handed the plaques to Hall of Famers following their induction speeches on the stage at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown.

He stood and smiled for pictures with some of baseball's greatest players.

Petroskey, 52, resigned Tuesday as the National Baseball Hall of Fame's president, a position that paid him $305,000 in 2006, according to a form 990 filed with the IRS.

Reasons behind his resignation were not made clear by the National Baseball Hall of Fame, other than a brief media release sent at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

"After almost nine productive years at the Hall of Fame, I have offered my resignation to the Hall's Executive Committee, and it has been accepted," Petroskey was quoted in the Hall's release. "The Hall of Fame is a world-class institution, and I am proud of all we have accomplished through vision, hard work, and teamwork. I serve at the pleasure of the Board, and accept the judgment of the Executive Committee."

The Hall's five-member executive committee of two-time National League MVP Joe Morgan, Meet the Press managing editor Tim Russert, Hall of Fame chairwoman Jane Forbes Clark, Edward Stack and Paul Beeston accepted Petroskey's resignation Tuesday afternoon.

"The resignation is the result of our finding that Dale Petroskey failed to exercise proper fiduciary responsibility and it follows other business judgments that were not in the best interest of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum," the committee said in the release.

The only addendum to the release came from Hall director of communications Brad Horn. He said Petroskey's actions were not criminal in nature and that Petroskey did not benefit from them.

Employees were notified of Petroskey's resignation shortly before 4:30 p.m., Horn said, declining to say who made the announcement.

Jeff Idelson, an employee at the Hall since 1994 and museum's vice president of communications and education since 1999, will serve as acting president while the Hall searches for Petroskey's replacement. Idelson, 43, becomes the Hall's sixth president.

Phone messages left at home of Petroskey, and the home and cell phones of Idelson were not returned to The Daily Star on Tuesday night.

Petroskey, who is married with three children, began working at the Hall on July 19, 1999, succeeding Donald Marr. Before taking the job, Petroskey worked as assistant press secretary under Ronald Reagan and spent 11 years at the National Geographic Society.

He made national news April 19, 2003, when he cancelled plans to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the movie "Bull Durham." Two of the films co-stars, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, were outspoken against the Iraq war, which started March 19, 2003.

Petroskey sent a letter to Robbins and Sarandon, some of which read: "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. As an institution, we stand behind our president and our troops in this conflict.

"As a result, we have decided to cancel the April 26-27 programs in Cooperstown commemorating the 15th anniversary of Bull Durham."

Robbins replied with a letter to Petroskey.

Part of it read: "As an American and as a baseball fan, I was dismayed to read your letter cancelling my appearance at the Baseball Hall of Fame due to my public criticism of President Bush. I had been unaware that baseball was a republican sport. I was looking forward to a weekend away from politics and war to celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of Bull Durham. I am sorry that you have chosen to use baseball and your position at the Hall of Fame to make a political statement."

Also during Petroskey's tenure, The Hall of Fame Game, baseball's only in-season exhibition held annually at Cooperstown's Doubleday Field, underwent a major change before it was announced the game would no longer be played following this year's game.

The game had coincided with the Induction Ceremony, normally being played the Monday after the Sunday ceremony. That changed in 2003, when the game moved to a spring date and the Induction Ceremony remained in late July.

On Jan. 29, Major League Baseball announced the game would be discontinued after the Chicago Cubs and San Diego Padres play on June 16 at Doubleday Field.

"We're disappointed and sad and it's been a great tradition," Petroskey said Jan. 29. "But we also understand the realities of major league scheduling now. ... It gets increasingly difficult for them to squeeze in exhibition games. We've been putting our finger in the dike the past few years trying to save this game. We understand, but it's still sad for us."

Idelson served as assistant vice president and senior press officer for World Cup 1994, the committee charged with staging the soccer World Cup in America, before joining the Hall. He also served as director of media relations and publicity for the New York Yankees from 1989-1993.

A native of New Newton, Mass., Idelson graduated from Connecticut College in 1986. He began his career as a public relations intern for the Red Sox in 1986.

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Rob Centorani can be reached at rcentorani@thedailystar.com or 607-432-1000, ext. 209.

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