Today we post the transcript of a very special event – a milestone, if you will – for the blog. On Friday night, April 13 Baseball in the Classroom had the opportunity to speak to San Diego Padres’ pitcher Chris Young. Graduating from Princeton University and wrote his senior thesis on "The Impact of Jackie Robinson and the Integration of Baseball on Racial
Stereotypes in America: A Quantitative Content Analysis of Stories
about Race in the New York Times," studying six months’ worth of the New York Times to measure how race was covered nationally.
(For an excellent story on Chris, see this ESPN piece by Jeff Bradley)
This interview took place shortly before the Padres took on the Dodgers in Chavez Ravine. Chris also had the honor of pitching for the Padres on Jackie Robinson Day on Sunday night.
Baseball in the Classroom: You’re the first baseball player that we’ve interviewed for the blog, so it’s kind of a landmark for us.
Chris Young: I appreciate you taking the time to do it.
BC: We have 13 educational modules that we offer and they all use baseball as a platform for teaching subjects that teachers use in the curriculum, and obviously one of our more popular ones is our Civil Rights module. Looking at your background not just as someone who is Ivy League educated but also a baseball player, you probably have some special insight that kids and teachers would find interesting. You wrote your senior thesis on Jackie Robinson and brought a much different perspective to the subject not just because of the color of your skin but also because you play baseball, what about your research stood out to you the most?
CY: Jackie Robinson was a variable for the paper, the subject was how the media shapes attitudes and stereotypes for the general public. The premise would then be if there was a shift in attitude and stereotype in the media then there would be the same shift among the general population. The data I collected provided evidence that it was true. The thing that jumped out to me the most I guess was just how influential the media can be.
BC: You are pitching on Sunday night against the Dodgers – obviously Jackie’s old team – on Jackie Robinson Day. What impact does that have on you as a player and with your background?
CY: It’s a great honor, and I think it’s great that they are honoring Jackie Robinson with the tribute, but once the game starts – and even before the game I’ll be focused on what I need to do. I would almost appreciate it more if I wasn’t pitching that night, I could step back and enjoy the ceremonies and celebrations. For me it’s a normal game and I’m going to treat it as such.
BC: Attending an Ivy League school, clearly education is important to you. What advice can you give students, and specifically student-athletes, as they balance school and athletics or other extra-curricular activities?
CY: There are a lot of life lessons that can be learned on the athletic field or the playing court and that your character doesn’t change off the court. The same character that you show on the athletic field is the same character that you will show in the classroom. Just because you’re a good athlete doesn’t mean you can slack off in school. Just because you’re smart doesn’t mean you can’t be a good athlete. The academic and the athletic arenas transcend and it’s important to do your best in both.
BC: One of the most interesting characters in baseball history is Moe Berg, who also attended Princeton. Did you hear any cool Moe Berg stories while you were in school?
CY: No, not really at school, but I have read the book "The Catcher Was a Spy."
BC: That’s a great book.
CY: Yeah, it’s great, and certainly interesting to know who Moe Berg is and what he did – and the fact that he went to Princeton makes him all the more intriguing.
BC: Chris, thanks very much – I certainly appreciate it, and good luck Sunday night.
CY: Thanks very much.
The Classroom was busy on Thursday and Friday, so this newsworthy item had to go untouched on this blog until today. Thursday night, umpire Ria Cortesio became the first woman since Pam Postema in 1989 to umpire a Major League exhibition game when she called the Cubs/Diamondbacks spring training game from first and third bases. Cortesio, currently a minor league umpire in the Double-A Southern League, is the only female umpire in professional baseball. "As soon as a spot opens up at Triple-A, it’s mine," Cortesio said.
You can learn about the womens’ struggle for equality in baseball with the Hall of Fame’s education program "Dirt on Their Skirts." Schedule a program by calling 607-547-0347 today!