Baseball, Bowdoin College, Childhood, Friends, Fundraising, Maine, Middle East, Mitchell Institute, Mitchell, George, Sr., Speeches, Tennis, Travel, Waterville (Me.)
George J. Mitchell was born on August 20, 1933, in Waterville, Maine, to Mary Saad, a factory worker, and George Mitchell, a laborer. Senator Mitchell spent his youth in Waterville. After receiving his bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College in 1954, he served as an officer in the U.S. Army Counter-Intelligence Corps until 1956. In 1960 he earned a law degree from Georgetown University. Mitchell worked for Senator Edmund S. Muskie as executive assistant and as deputy campaign manager during Muskie's 1972 presidential campaign. He later became U.S. senator (D-Maine) 1980-1995, Senate majority leader 1989-1995, and, upon his retirement from the Senate, special advisor on Northern Ireland 1995-1998. Since 1998, Senator Mitchell has served on many boards and committees and has received high profile appointments including: chairman of the Sharm el-Sheikh International Fact-Finding Committee on the crisis between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (2000); overseer of the Red Cross Liberty Fund (2001); lead investigator into the illegal use of performance enhancing substances in Major League Baseball (2006); and special envoy for Palestinian-Israeli affairs (2009-2011).
Interview includes discussion of: motives for founding the Mitchell Institute; traveling around Maine as senator to visit high school assemblies and graduations; Mitchell’s perceived disparity in higher education opportunities among various Maine schools and school districts; the value and importance of a college education; raising funds to endow the Mitchell Institute and formulating plans to develop a scholarship program; Senate campaign fund-raising prior to Mitchell’s decision in 1994 not to seek reelection; Bill Hiss’s and Colleen Quint’s role in forming the Institute; the value and number of scholarships awarded; educational research conducted by the Institute; childhood reminiscences of playing sports in Waterville, Maine, especially baseball; involvement in professional baseball, meeting Bud Selig, and Mitchell’s being considered for the position of Major League Baseball commissioner; Baseball’s Blue Ribbon Commission on competitive team balance; involvement with the Red Sox baseball team; business consequences of accepting the post of special envoy to the Middle East peace process; investigating steroid use in Major League Baseball, the public’s intense interest in the report, and resistance to the investigation by the Players Association; friendship and playing tennis with Red Auerbach; impoverishment and jobs held while a student at Bowdoin College; working a summer job at Colby College after Mitchell’s senior year at Bowdoin; ROTC and subsequent Army service in Berlin in Counter-Intelligence; decision to enroll at Georgetown Law after military service.
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