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Elizabeth Pinelli ’11 shares her perspective on ‘Baseball: The One Constant through all the Years’

Elizabeth Pinelli ’11 (Princeton Junction, N.J.) shares her eye-opening introduction to baseball, as well as college, in her First-Year Seminar, “Baseball: The One Constant through all the Years,” taught by Chip Nataro, associate professor of chemistry and Lafayette Club Baseball coach.

  • First Year Seminar takes a Closer Look at ‘America’s Favorite Pastime’

When choosing a First-Year Seminar, I wanted to choose something that I knew absolutely nothing about. Thus “Baseball: The One Constant Through all the Years” was what I selected as my first choice for my first year seminar. Even though many of my friends claimed it was to meet boys, I really was interested in learning about the history and tactics of the game.

I remember walking in the first day and sitting in my chair. I then proceeded to observe the scenery around me: 14 boys and two girls. It was going to be a long first semester. When Dr. Nataro started talking about what we would be doing in class and the books we would be reading, I thought “Okay. I can do this.”

He then proceeded to tell us that we would be making a fantasy baseball team. For our fantasy team, we would be able to pick the players for our team during a draft that would take place in class, name the team whatever we wanted, and pick out a home field. After that, we would actually play the game on a computer program called Diamond Mind Baseball. When playing a game, you would either be sitting next to your opponent or playing through the internet.

The program allows you to go pitch by pitch and make decisions such as hitting the ball or bunting the ball, stealing bases, and intentionally walking the batter. I’ll be honest; I had no idea what to look for in a baseball player. Luckily for me, Dr. Nataro made himself very available for help. He taught me what to look for in a player. For example, batting average and on-base percentage are very important statistics to look at when drafting a team.

He then continued to talk about the course and how during the year we would watch games and have to keep score. Score? The only thing I knew about keeping score was that there were three strikes and a batter was out and four balls and a batter was walked. After leaving that class for the first time I thought I was in way over my head. Even though I believed this, Dr. Nataro really took the time to help me learn the game and convinced me I would be okay if I stayed in the class.

Throughout these past five weeks, I have had my fair share of embarrassing moments. One of them would be during our fantasy league draft. I wanted to draft Adam LaRoche. Little did I know that Adam LaRoche’s last name was not pronounced the same way as Ferrero Roche Chocolate. People still make fun of me for that.

Another time would be during one of our discussions. Since I do not have as much knowledge about the game, I normally just listen to the discussions and learn from what other people are saying. As class was winding down, my friend in the class had to bring up a debate that we had the other day about whether or not an athlete should finish college before going to the professionals. Dr. Nataro wanted to hear my perspective about this. Although I should have said nothing, I told the class that I thought an athlete should go to college before playing in the professionals. The minute my mouth finished the sentence, almost every other person in that room started screaming and calling me ridiculous. After that, I decided to go back to listening again.

Although I went into this class knowing absolutely nothing about baseball, I have learned so much in the classes that we have had so far. I learned the position numbers for all the players in the field and learned that there is strategy to the game. I also greatly enjoyed reading Money Ball and learning about Billy Beane, who was a former Major League player and now is the general manager of the Oakland Athletics.

I could not have picked a better class to begin my college education. I choose Lafayette because I wanted a liberal arts education and the ability to learn about a wide variety of subjects. Never did I think that I would be learning about a game that I knew nothing about. Not only does this class teach me about baseball, but it also helped jump start my brain to college level thinking and learning. Whether it was the lengthy discussions about the pennant, learning about the history of Lafayette baseball, or analyzing a game and writing a paper about it, all of these experiences really helped me better adapt to college-style learning. I have greatly enjoyed this class and can’t wait to see what the rest of the semester will bring.

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