The Baltimore Sun reports on one of our own, economist Stephen Walters, who runs some numbers for his hometown Baltimore Orioles. It’s an interesting story, delving into the O’s current success, Walters’ statistical contributions, and the history of his interest in the game. The latter is particularly interesting:
Like many who have embraced the principles of sabermetrics, Walters spent his childhood playing not just catch but strategy baseball games. Specifically, he and his friends spent hours playing Strat-O-Matic baseball, a simulation game that quantified each major league player’s skill and then allowed “games” to be played with dice.
When he and his wife, Melanie, decided to move to Baltimore 30 years ago, Walters, who grew up a Red Sox fan in New England, showed his wife the neighborhoods near Memorial Stadium. They ended up living not far away, spending evenings sitting out in the front yard with neighbors listening to the games.
“He’s just always been so into baseball,” Melanie Walters said. “This is such a dream for him.”
After a long day of work, Walters often would come home and relax by creating rosters of players he thought would exceed expectations if given the chance to play together. That led him to pursue serious academic work in baseball, and he began publishing papers in the 1990s. He ended up writing for Sporting News — and running into considerable resistance from old-school scouts and scribes who scoffed at his methods.
Back at Loyola, though, his research caused a buzz. He has long been a popular teacher — he was honored as one of the school’s best in 2005 — and his other academic work has been distinguished. He’s currently on sabbatical, working on a book about the future of big cities, a project that grew out of research he did before Baltimore’s last mayoral election.
There is much more of interest in this very nice piece. Congratulations to the Orioles, and well done Steve!