For the last several years my involvement with baseball changed from just an avid baseball fan to an educator, an author, a writer, a researcher, and a speaker on the topic of baseball. Each of these new roles has brought me in contact with many wonderful people, who have provided me with their personal baseball stories.
In 2008, in my role as a college professor at Quinnipiac University, I decided to offer a course in statistics based on data from baseball. This course would coincide with the new Sports Minor offered at QU. In looking for a textbook for this course I could not find a book that met this need. So, I spent the summer writing a series of lecture notes. During that time, an editor from Johns Hopkins University Press contacted me about writing a textbook to teach statistics with baseball. My book “Sandlot Stats: Learning Statistics with Baseball” was published by Johns Hopkins Press in 2012. The first 15 chapters of my book teach an introductory course in statistics and the last three chapters apply the statistics to such questions as: Who are the 10 greatest hitters of all-time? Yes, I do name them.
The writing of this book led to my interest in doing research in Sabermetrics, the area of mathematics that uses statistics to make objective decisions about baseball. My latest research on predicting a team’s winning percentage was published in the “Baseball Research Journal” and cited in www.baseball-reference.com. Some of my earlier research which included a formula to assign a probability of any player breaking such baseball streaks as Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak is a chapter in my textbook.
My new pedagogy on teaching statistics with baseball and my current research in sabermetrics has led me to give presentations at several math conventions, at high schools, and at math clubs in such places as Los Angeles, New Orleans, Baltimore, San Diego, and most recently in Seattle.
If you have not already visited my website www.sandlotstats.com please do so. On the left side of the home-page you will see the topic “Interesting Facts.” If you click on it you will be sent to a collection of small articles discussing many interesting topics on baseball such as how the Hall of Fame got to Cooperstown and who was responsible for the establishment of the World Series. If you are a teacher of mathematics at any level on the left side of the page you can click on “About the Book” and “Chapter by Chapter” to see how baseball is used to teach statistics. Also, if you click on the word BLOG at the top of the page you can read my baseball postings. You will also discover guest postings and student postings.
Realizing that the history of baseball is connected with the history of our country led me to design talks for civic groups and other special groups such as senior groups. Some of my talks to these groups include “The Role of Minorities in Baseball” and “Using Baseball to Teach Mathematics.”
Some of my most enjoyable talks were at senior centers. It was what occurred before and after my talks that I will always remember. Here are some of the stories relayed to me by seniors. A woman approached me and said “I knew Jackie Robinson and he was a great guy.” Later I found out she was 100 years old. Another gentleman in his 90s told me he saw Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig play. Just recently a senior told me that after chasing Bobby Thomson for an autograph as a child, he was carried across the busy street by Thomson.
I close by asking you to relay any stories about baseball that you will never forget. You can email your story and I will do the rest. Also, I would be happy to speak to your group on a baseball topic suitable to your group. Just email me your request. I have been very fortunate to be able to combine my love of teaching with my love of baseball.