In Lafayette's First-Year Seminars, students explore issues, gather evidence, and communicate their ideas through writing. Here's a look at two classes on baseball Twitter
By Mark Eyerly
What’s the focus? Both courses provide a historical perspective on baseball, through which students explore economics, statistics, racism, and more.
Up at bat: Chip Nataro, professor of chemistry, and Gary Gordon, Marshall R. Metzgar Professor of Mathematics, take different approaches to exploring America’s favorite pastime.
Stats at work: “My class is participating in a computer simulation league using software from Diamond Mind Baseball,” Nataro says. “The students drafted teams based on 2017 player stats and play a short regular season on the way to a World Series Championship.”
Cultural exploration: “I love having students learn new things about something they know quite well,” Gordon says. “They find the description of baseball in Japan to be an interesting reflection of Japanese culture, and baseball in Korea is played in a way that represents a reaction against Japanese domination.”
On their lineups: Nataro invites the College’s baseball coach, Joe Kinney, to talk about the history of baseball at Lafayette. Gordon’s class features Joe Rosales, vice president of R&D at Lehigh Valley-based Baseball Info Solutions, who talks about advanced statistical analyses his company provides to Major League Baseball teams.
Pinstripes forever: Both profs root for the New York Yankees. Nataro’s all-time favorite player is Don Mattingly; Gordon’s are Aaron Judge and Sandy Koufax.
Greatest baseball moment: For Nataro, it was being in Yankee Stadium for reliever Mariano Rivera’s last game. Gordon’s is his first game, in 1968, at Yankee Stadium. “It was so beautiful, so green, and so enormous,” he says.
Favorite tradition: Nataro’s is spring training. “The first sounds of balls hitting bats, green grass, the sun in a sky of blue. It’s perfect,” he says. As for Gordon: “I love the recent tradition of every player wearing number 42 on April 15 as a tribute to Jackie Robinson.”
Required reading: Nataro recommends Donnie Baseball: The Definitive Biography of Don Mattingly, and Don Mattingly’s Hitting Is Simple: The ABC’s of Batting .300. (“I might be slightly biased,” he says.) Gordon recently read and enjoyed The Catcher Was a Spy. “I also loved recent biographies of Satchel Paige, Roberto Clemente, Sandy Koufax, and Lou Gehrig.”
Gotta watch: The Kevin Costner trilogy, says Nataro: For the Love of the Game, Bull Durham, and Field of Dreams. For Gordon, the best baseball movies are 42 and The Natural.
People who find baseball boring …
Nataro: “… should not sit in the same section as me at a game. I can’t stand it when people get up to leave during an inning or just talk throughout the game.”
Gordon: “… are not completely wrong. One problem is playoff games that end after midnight on the East Coast.”