Treasure / Right Field for a Baseball Fan

Baseball collectionI can remember I was 8 or 9 years old. My dad was a baseball fan so I became a baseball fan as well. I’ve been a lifelong sports fan too, but as I became focused on my scholarship I became fonder of baseball and less so of other sports. There’s a wealth of data available, and for purposes of analysis you need data. In baseball, everybody except for the pitcher does the same thing, for the most part. For a sports economist, there you have a consistency in terms of types of measures.

My mother gave me my first couple of baseballs and the collection has just kind of grown from there. I’ve got some from Hall-of-Famers – and some from those who just had a cup of coffee in the major leagues. I’ve got a couple signed by Negro League players. Bud Selig signed a ball for me when he was here for Commencement. And there are several signed by women who were in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which inspired the movie “A League of Their Own.” Some of the Girls –they’re now in their 90s – will be at St. Norbert for the Sport & Society conference this spring.

This rack is how I track the standings. It shows how the divisions finished last year. Sometime before the season starts, I’ll reorder it with my predictions for this year. My students will come back and laugh at me in the fall when they see how bad my predictions were. The students are into baseball, too. Video games have made a difference and the fantasy stuff they can do has brought the young fans back.

If you have salary data and performance statistics, it’s an opportunity to evaluate economic theories as far as people’s pay and performance is concerned. Sabermetrics has elevated the statistical analysis of the game to another level. They’re trying to tease information out of the data that no one ever thought of considering before. I think the young folk like that as well.

It sure is nice to be able to have your scholarship focus on something you really enjoy. It’s been a lifelong source of enjoyment and it doesn’t get a heck of a lot better than that.


March 31, 2014