Why Baseball Matters in the Classroom

Watching the 9–3 Chicago Cubs victory over Cleveland reminded me how compelling America’s Pastime can be. Baseball has the power to elevate an ordinary player to hero status with the swing of a bat, an exceptional catch, or a remarkable 9th inning save. Baseball is a statistics-driven league. Historians and statistics geeks love to compare players within seasons and across eras to determine their relative value. In the drawn-out 162-game baseball season, there are few anomalies and a player’s worth is easily measured by his stats—often in averages. Good hitters average more than three hits every ten at bats. Great pitchers average fewer than two runs per nine innings. 

While these statistics are useful in making comparisons among players, they tell us very little about how individual players will perform in special moments. Just ask Addison Russell, the Cubs’ shortstop who is hitting a paltry .213 this post-season. Russell is a lifetime .240 hitter who essentially put yesterday’s game out of reach with a grand slam home-run in the bottom of the second inning, his third of the post-season.

Todd Rose’s book, The End of Average: How We Succeed in a World That Values Sameness, brilliantly dispels the usefulness of averages to assess students and employees. Rose argues that no one is average and that the “average-size-fits-all model has ignored our individuality and failed at recognizing talent”. I chose this book for the Head of School Book Club after one of my senior meetings last year. Among other topics, the seniors share feedback on their experiences at Bush and describe common attributes of a Bush student. While there are many commonalities, the meetings highlight our students’ unique skills, passions, and aspirations. They attribute their personal and academic growth to their work with the faculty and staff at The Bush School.

Thank you for recognizing each student’s special gifts and for cultivating their passions. You make it possible for them to believe they can become the next astronomer, musician, statistician, agronomist, scientist or even the next six-foot 220 pound potential World Series MVP.