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Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

Spring break for Quinnipiac students also means the QU Baseball Team has its traditional Spring Break foray to the warmth of the south. Their 2nd stop on their southern tour brought them to FGCU (Florida Gulf Coast University) in Fort Myers, FL. They played 4 games in 3  days against the FGCU Eagles. The last game was on Sunday, March 13. I am currently on Sabbatical in Naples, FL which is about 15 miles from Fort Myers. So what could be nicer than on a low 80s day to travel to see my QU team tackle the Eagles of FGCU.

My wife and I arrived at the FGCU Swanson Stadium at 10:30 AM for the 11:30 game. The FGCU Stadium is a beautiful venue for a baseball game. A few of the QU players had actually taken my “Baseball and Statistics” course at QU. Of course being on Sabbatical in FL for the spring semester I am not teaching my favorite course this semester. Upon entering the dugout I was welcomed by the players. In fact, I found out 5 of the players are currently taking my course and they remarked how much they liked Boyd Johnson, a former student of mine, who replaced me in the course for this semester. I then asked the current students how they liked my book “Sandlot Stats: Learning Statistics with Baseball.” One of the students signaled with a hand motion. They all laughed and then responded the book was fine. I took a picture with some of the guys which you see here.

QU Baseball Players

Onto the actual game. At the top of the first inning QU was retired without scoring. Then came the bottom of the first. The first four batters got hits and before you knew it three runs had scored and the bases were loaded with no outs. I envisioned a 20 to 2 game. But, amazingly QU’s pitcher Taylor Luciani got out of the inning without allowing any more runs. The game stayed 3-0 after the first three innings. QU then got solo runs and tied the score at 3-3. The offensive attack was led by John Brodenhamer who drove in two of the three runs with a solo home run and a double. The third run scored when Brian Moskey scored from third base on a passed ball.

QU vs FGCU

We sat in the stands and were surrounded by many parents of the players. One entire family there was the Moskey Family. The family included the grandparents, mom and dad, and big brother. They all cheered for Brian. The QU fans around us also cheered BBBB. I talked to other parents and they told me they were glad their sons were attending such a fine university.

Back to the game. In the 6th and 7th innings the FGCU Eagles broke the game wide open scoring 7 more runs. The game ended with QU on the short end of a 10-3 score. Behind us sat 2 FGCU fans who I spoke to about their team. I asked them if any current FGCU players are Major League candidates. They said their second baseman Jake Knoll who is batting .391 after 15 games was being scouted by several Major League teams.

QU vs FGCU baseball

If you are wondering if any FGCU player has made it to the majors, well, you heard of Chris Sale. Yes, he played for FGCU. Sale was one of only 6 players in MLB history to play in the big leagues the same year he was drafted, after being selected 13th overall in 2010. Can you name the other 5? QU also had one player in the majors. Remember the antics of Turk Wendell? Well he was from QU.

My wife and I departed after 3 hours of an enjoyable day which featured perfect weather and a well-played game at a beautiful stadium. Of course, the day would have been better if QU had won.

Yes, as I always say “Baseball follows me wherever I go.”


 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

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.


 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

What you will read below was written by my former student Kevin Faggella. Kevin was a math major at Quinnipiac University. Kevin later joined me in my sabermetric research. Kevin provided many helpful suggestions during the time I was writing my book: “Sandlot Stats; Learning Statistics with Baseball.” He was also the recipient of The James Fickes Award which is given to the senior mathematics major who has shown the greatest achievement and future promise as a mathematician. Kevin currently teaches mathematics at New Fairfield High School and also is their freshman baseball coach.

Those of us who have played for our high school or college team have all experienced what it meant to be part of a team. As is often said “there is no I in the word team.”

Here is Kevin’s essay about what it meant for Kevin to be part of his team.

“Someone asked me recently if I missed baseball. It might kill my parents to hear that I don't miss playing.

But what I do miss the most, is wearing the uniform. Wearing a uniform is something special. There's something exciting about being able to put it on game day. There's something about being a part of a team, and getting to represent your town or school. There's something about wearing it, and I can't put my finger on it.

I miss being able to go out to eat after practice or a game with my friends. I miss my parents buying the whole team Corey's after a big win. I miss being on the bench with my friends. I miss having a reason to go outside on a beautiful day and play catch.

But still, I miss wearing the uniform. I feel all too often today's kids are too concerned with looking cool in their uniform, rather than what it truly means. There is nothing more special than being a part of something bigger than yourself.

All I can say is thank you to my parents Victor FaggellaPatrice Hodde Faggella, and my brother Victor Faggella for trucking all over the place to watch me play, and sending me to baseball camp. You are the reason why I get to show my players what it means to be a part of something special.”

Kevin’s words got me to thinking about when I wore the uniform in basketball at Hackensack High School. I started playing basketball at the eighth grade level at State Street Junior High School. From that point on until I graduated high school, every season I wore a basketball uniform and represented my school. During the season we practiced together every day we did not have a game. My teammates became my brothers. I will never forget the bus rides after a game back to Hackensack. When we won there were happy moments and when we lost we consoled each other.

I saw some of my old teammates at my 50th high school reunion. Of course, some are no longer with us. My teammates will always be in my memory because for those years they were my brothers.

If you would like to tell your story about what it meant to you to be part of a team please send me your story as an email attachment and I would love to publish it.

Finally, as Kevin did in his essay, remember to thank all those people including your parents, grandparents, coaches, and other relatives and friends who made the sacrifices necessary for you to be able to be a member of your team.

Stan-Rico-Kevin
In the photo above, taken in Feb. of 2013 in my office at QU, are:  Dr. Stan the Stat's Man (me), Rico Brogna (10 year major leaguer), and Kevin.


 

 

 
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