Batter up: students, faculty talk baseball

By on October 10, 2006

Students and faculty members shared their passion about America’s pastime in a discussion about baseball on Oct. 6 in the Mancheski Executive Seminar Room.

The seminar was part of the “Friday Forums at 5″ program, which seeks to provide on-campus activities for Quinnipiac students at the outset of the weekend.

Stuart Easton, a freshman communications major, described the event as “a good way to meet people with the same interests as me.”

Larry Levine, associate professor of psychology, led the discussion. Levine is a retired full-time faculty member at Quinnipiac who teaches “The History and Social Impact of Baseball in America” in the spring semester.

“It’s certainly not going to be a lecture,” Levine said prior to the beginning of the discussion. “If the students have nothing to say, we’re all in trouble”.

Fortunately, the students and faculty members had plenty to say. About ten students and about as many faculty members participated in the discussion.

The faculty members included Kathy Cooke, professor of history; and Stan Rothman, professor of mathematics. Cooke serves as the director of the University Honors Program, which organizes the “Friday Forums at 5.”

“We’re just baseball enthusiasts,” said Jamie Palatini, a freshman communications major who arrived with several friends.

Cooke provided snacks and soft drinks for the conversation’s participants. Chairs were turned toward one another to create a conversational atmosphere. Throughout the discussion some people participated actively while others seemed content to listen attentively.

The charismatic Levine sported a red sweatshirt in support of Puerto Rico’s World Baseball Classic team. He began the conversation by emphasizing the parallels between the history of baseball and those of broader American history.

Levine discussed the way that racism, corruption, and monopolistic practices have existed as major themes in American history as well as baseball history throughout the last 150 years.

“It’s almost like a lens,” said Levine. “You can look through it and see the development of American society.”

Levine then delved into a debate over whether Major League Baseball officials should allow Pete Rose, the all-time career hits leader, to enter the Hall of Fame. Rose is recognized as one of the greatest players in history but major league baseball officials have thus far barred him from the Baseball Hall of Fame because he bet on baseball while he was the manager of the Cincinnati Reds.

The panel appeared split on the issue as almost all of the students supported allowing Rose to enter the Hall of Fame, while many of the faculty members supported keeping him out.

The discussion then moved to the issue of steroid use and specifically Barry Bonds. Bonds broke baseball’s single-season home run record in 2001, but this accomplishment has been tainted by allegations of illegal steroid use.

It was largely agreed that stricter drug testing represents the best possible solution to the problem.

“I believe strong drug tests will discourage most of the players,” Levine said.

The conversation on steroids and gambling related to the larger issue of morality among today’s baseball players.

Michael Feldstein, a sophomore broadcast journalism major, mentioned that while players such as Derek Jeter were excellent role models, the association of baseball players with integrity has largely disintegrated in recent years.

“If one thing was to sum up baseball in the last 15 years, I would say greed,” Feldstein said.

Levine asked those around him for their World Series predictions. The discussion reached no general consensus on this issue except that baseball’s post-season tournament would be fun to watch.

Rothman illustrated his feelings that baseball is a great game because of the element of the unknown.

“I never know when I’m going to see something I’ve never seen before,” he said.


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