Michael Badalucco Visits the Hall of Fame

By Bill Francis

Actor Michael Badalucco, a familiar face to fans of The Practice, the legal drama series that aired on ABC from 1997 to 2004, made a long-awaited second trip to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum on Friday.

“We were on our way to Buffalo and I said to my friend, ‘Let’s take the long way and let’s go to Cooperstown,’” said Badalucco during a break from checking out the Museum’s third-floor exhibits. “I haven’t been here since I was 11 years old, but it didn’t look anything like this. I’m a big baseball fan so I said let’s try and to get in there.

Actor Michael Badalucco standing in the Autumn Glory exhibit during his visit to the Hall of Fame on Friday. (Bill Francis/NBHOF Library)

“Of course I remember the Plaque Gallery, which looks like it has never changed, but seeing the Museum exhibits now is so insightful and appealing that you don’t want to leave. Being here is a great thrill. You come here and you learn things about these guys … you think you know them but you don’t really.”

Born and raised in Brooklyn, Badalucco, 57, grew up a fan of the New York Yankees and Mickey Mantle.

“My uncles were Yankees fans, but my father from Sicily wasn’t much into baseball,” he said. “I remember going to Yankee Stadium in the early ‘60s and being able to walk out on the field and see the monuments and the flagpole after the game.”

Before getting his big acting break as a regular on The Practice, portraying lawyer Jimmy Berluti, Badalucco had to work on his craft for a number of years much like a minor league ballplayer.

“Twenty years after I graduated from college (State University of New York at New Paltz) I got a steady job,” he said. “I got my degree in theater but instead of being a waiter I worked as a prop man because I could work on the sets. Yogi (Berra) says, ‘You can observe a lot by watching.’ And I did.

“So all those years I was on the sets of all kinds of big movies in New York and I watched how they directed, how people acted, what went on on the set, so when I finally got my break not only did I know what was going on, every aspect of moviemaking, but I learned to have a great respect for people behind the camera because they are as important as the people in front of it.”

Badalucco, who would eventually win the 1999 Emmy for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Berluti on The Practice, can next be seen on the Syfy channel.

“It’s my first monster movie (Heebie Jeebies) and it’s going to be on in February. I confront a seven-headed monster.”

Bill Francis is a Library Associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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