A New Perspective

By Eddie Smith
April 2, 2012

Baseball is a game that is made to be played every day.  In the Major Leagues teams set out on six month journeys and take about ten total days off throughout the entire season and even the 56 game college season is a marathon of triumphs, challenges and memories.

The greatest thing about baseball is that even with the bulk of games that are on a schedule, each day at the ballpark has a different way of reminding me why I love this game so much and giving new perspective on the sport.

Wednesday morning I had a unique way of being reminded of how this great game has so many beautiful intricacies when a group of 20 MBA students from Deggendorf, Germany arrived at Schott Stadium for a chance to learn “America’s Game.”

The foreign exchange group is one of many that Santa Clara’s Leavey School of Business hosts each year for a week-long exchange in hopes of educating MBA students on American business.  My task was to teach this group the basics of the game of baseball and how the game is so entrenched in American culture with the hopes that by understanding baseball, these students would better understand America.

The German group’s only experience with baseball came the night before as they watched a few innings of our game against Brown so the teaching of the game was truly from the ground up.

From the very beginning the group was very intrigued by baseball and how it was such a part of our American culture.  They were a very friendly group with a lot of spirit and really enjoyed trying to figure the game out.

As my presentation started, we talked about the pitch and how a pitcher tries to throw the ball to a catcher while a hitter stands trying to hit the ball.   It was fascinating to see how a group of mature and highly successful business people had to work so hard to grasp so many simple concepts of the pitch!

During the presentation we used a power point full of pictures, words and descriptions to try to teach what a pitch meant.  As the presentation went on, trying to explain the difference between a strike and a foul ball that counted for a strike was mesmerizing for the group.  They had the hardest time understanding why a foul ball would be a strike all the time except when a hitter had 2 strikes.  No matter how many times we tried to explain it, it didn’t make sense!

Later, the topic of force outs and tag outs came up.  Explaining why a runner would sometimes need to be tagged out and other times only need to be forced out, but could still be tagged out on a force out just perplexed this group of bright and intelligent foreign business leaders.

The day concluded with a mini workout for the students as they had a chance to play catch, hit and run the bases.  For many of them, figuring out that a right handed glove actually goes on the left hand was the most success they had in any physical activity.

At the end of the day, we took a group picture, shook hands and thanked each other for a great day.  It was truly a memory that was a great teacher of the beauty of baseball.  Despite the brilliant minds of these business leaders, their inexperience with baseball was a great reminder that some of the details of baseball that we take for granted are so beautiful.

Could you imagine how the game would be different if a runner didn’t have to tag up on a fly ball or if all outs required a tag?  For a day these questions raced through my mind as I was given another perspective on baseball as the very basic principles of baseball were examined and challenged and I was given another perspective on The sport.

And all the while they thought I was supposed to be teaching them something about America’s game!