Lessons from the Baseball Field

Dean's Reflections

It’s springtime, and we’re all starting to think about being outdoors and having fun in the sun.

For many people, spring means one thing—baseball. If you’re a fan, business probably isn’t the first thing on your mind when you head to the park to cheer on your favorite team—whether it’s the O’s, my hometown team the Kansas City Royals, or whichever team you follow. But make no mistake, Major League Baseball is big business, and the league’s owners and managers face strategy issues every day related to compensation, pricing, marketing, lending, and facilities. They also face issues of ethics and legality. Just this week, seven-time MLB Most Valuable Player Barry Bonds was found guilty of obstruction of justice on charges stemming from his actions during an investigation of his steroid use.

So where does a sport like baseball go from here? Sellinger School Economics Professor Steve Walters, Ph.D., has consulted for three MLB teams, and you’ll find some of his insights into the future of the sport—particularly in regards to financial issues the league faces—on our homepage this month.

Steve’s take on baseball is a great example of what we mean by seeing business differently. It’s why we bring guest lecturers to campus from a range of industries—including Business Leader of the Year Eddie C. Brown, founder and president of Brown Capital Management, one of the nation’s oldest African-American owned investment firms; Erik Frywald, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Nalco Holding Company, the sustainability services company that aided BP in cleaning up the Gulf spill; and appropriately for the season, Orioles legend Cal Ripken, Jr., who now owns several Class A MLB affiliates and a one-of-a-kind complex that serves as the headquarters of an international youth baseball program, as well as home to the Aberdeen IronBirds.

It’s why we encourage our students to consult with nonprofits or participate in service learning—such as the revitalization of the York Road Corridor.

Providing our students with practical business examples, opportunities to apply theory, and a high-level outlook on business is a crucial part of a Sellinger education. It’s not enough to know how your business works. You must know how your decisions affect others, and how other businesses could affect your organization, your consumers, or your community.