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Baseball

Illustration of baseball as atom nucleus
Summer 2018

Physics at the bat

Today’s baseball game, brought to you by Physics Unlimited, is a blockbuster contest between the famous Mathematical Physicists and Washington State University’s own Oblique Collisions.

As the Oblique Collisions take the field, Ernest Rutherford, the renowned English physicist, is first up for the Mathematical Physicists. Better known outside physics circles for his cricketing skills, Rutherford is quite the hitter, though usually of particles much smaller than baseballs.

Indeed, in describing the collision of an alpha particle—better known as the nucleus of a helium atom, two protons and two massive neutrons—with a gold atom, Rutherford had this to say: “It was as if you fired a … » More …

Nikkei Baseball
Winter 2014

Nikkei Baseball: Japanese American Players from Immigration and Internment to the Major Leagues

Nikkei Baseball

 

Samuel O. Regalado ’83 MA, ’87 PhD

University of Illinois Press, 2013

 

Since Sam Regalado received his doctorate in history in 1987, he has established himself as one of the leading authorities on the history of baseball and the Hispanic population in the United States. Now a professor at California State University Stanislaus, Regalado has penned an eminently readable history on how baseball helped Americans of Japanese descent construct an identity.

Regalado’s interest … » More …

Love Reports to Spring Training cover
Fall 2013

Love Reports to Spring Training

Love Reports to Spring Training cover

Linda Kittell
Turning Point Books, 2013

Baseball lends itself as metaphor like no other sport. Boxing might come close, but its inherent brutality and changing cultural tastes have removed it from the public’s awareness.

But baseball endures and permeates our culture, and even a non-fan can appreciate the sport’s dramatic interplay of quietude and adrenaline. In Love Reports to Spring Training, Linda Kittell exploits this richness through a deeply satisfying … » More …

John E. Olerud speaks at WSU
Summer 2012

John E. Olerud ’65—Science is a lot like baseball

Whether he’s studying how wounds heal or he’s tagging a runner out at home plate, John E. Olerud ’65 knows two techniques to succeed: work hard and stick with it.

Olerud credits those lessons to the man who recruited him to Washington State University’s baseball team, Chuck “Bobo” Brayton. “He was one of those guys who taught you a lot of lessons about life, not just baseball,” he says.

The lessons learned have led to achievements on the diamond—as catcher and captain of the 1965 Cougar baseball team that played in the College World Series, and as a professional player for seven years—and in academia, … » More …

Mikal Thomsen
Summer 2012

Scoring position: A man buys his hometown team

In the 1970s, when Mikal Thomsen ’79 was a budding business student at WSU, he earned his tuition by compiling the stats for the football, basketball, and baseball teams. The job not only let him parlay an interest in numbers and sports into an entertaining occupation, it gave him free admission to all the games. With primo seats. During the football season, he had a bird’s-eye view from the press box. During baseball, he travelled with the team as the official scorer.

Thomsen liked being in the thick of things, following the minutiae of the games, getting a sense of the players. Today, as a … » More …

Winter 2011

Sabermetrics As Told By The Simpsons

Between the book Moneyball and the movie “Moneyball,” there was the 2010 Simpsons episode “MoneyBART,” which introduced 6 million or so people to the artist Banksy, who wrote the opening sequence. Less celebrated is the fact that the show introduced many people to the concept of sabermetrics.

A viewer’s guide to the episode can go a long way in explaining some of the fundamental notions of baseball’s most exuberantly rational side.

First, the quick plot summary:

Lisa Simpson needs an extracurricular activity to pad her application to Yale, so she signs on to coach Bart’s Little League team, the … » More …

Winter 2011

Timeline: John Olerud’s Baseball Career

“When I made up the lineup, I always put Ole [John Olerud] in the third spot—where you want your best all-around player—and filled in around him,” says WSU baseball coach Bobo Brayton. “He led the world in everything.”

On the rare occasion when Ole faltered a little on the mound, Bobo would visit the big lefthander with words of advice: “Remember you are John Olerud. There’s no one better.” He was named national College Player of the Year in 1988.
—from Washington State Magazine, Summer 2002

WSU

1987

Hit .414 with 5 HR and 20 RBIs. As a pitcher, he went 8-2 with … » More …

John Olerud of the Seattle Mariners
Winter 2011

John Olerud x’88: Faith, Hope, and Horses

John Olerud was not enamored with New York City during his playing days with the Toronto Blue Jays. “Every time we went there and played I was so intimidated by the city,” he recalls. “I just thought, man, it was just a matter of time before I get mugged on the streets.”

So imagine Olerud’s thoughts when he learned he was traded to the New York Mets in 1997.

“Sure enough I get traded to them and my wife (Kelly) says, ‘Let’s just try living in the city and see what it’s like.’

“We did that and just had a great time.”

“I think [God] … » More …

Winter 2011

A Coug’s Numbers, A Hollywood Story

By traditional baseball standards, Scott Hatteberg’s big league days were numbered.

He had been a Cougar standout, team captain, Most Valuable Player, and catcher for future All-Star Aaron Sele, with whom he went to the Red Sox in 1991. But in his fifth year in the majors he ruptured a nerve in his elbow. An operation left him unable to hold a baseball. In the words of Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, he was “a second string, washed up catcher.”

“I couldn’t throw as hard,” Hatteberg x’91 recalls. “My accuracy had gone. As a catcher, you lose … » More …