This is a little report for Tracy Higgens, who is perhaps the coolest person on earth.
i have an assignment for you: i heard from chris’s dad that only 17 players in the MLB have college degrees- astounding. i was just telling my family this stat and doug doesn’t blieve it for a second. can you figure out if that’s true?
At first I thought this was silly, but it could be true. First off, there are 30 teams in the Major Leagues. Actually first first off I don’t know anything about baseball. Anyways, each team has a roster of 25.
30 teams X 25 players = 750 players
Brad Ausmus Astros Dartmouth Government
Brian Boehringer Pirates UNLV Finance
Dave Burba Brewers Ohio State Family Counselling
Chris Capuano Brewers Duke Economics
Jamey Carroll Expos Evansville Kinesiology
Sean Casey Reds Richmond Speech
Vinnie Chulk Blue Jays St. Thomas (FL) Sports Mgmt.
Jeff Cirillo Padres USC Communications
Brady Clark Brewers USD Business
Craig Counsell Brewers Notre Dame Accounting
Darren Dreifort Dodgers Wichita State Liberal Arts
Bob File Blue Jays Textiles/Science (PA) Computer Science
Steve Finley D'backs Southern Illinois Physiology
John Flaherty Yankees George Washington Speech
Jody Gerut Indians Stanford History
Doug Glanville Phillies Penn Systems Eng.
Rusty Greer Rangers Montevallo (Ala.) Not available
Kevin Gryboski Braves Wilkes (Penn.) Environmental Eng.
Travis Harper Devil Rays James Madison Health Sciences
Shigetoshi Hasegawa Mariners Ritsumeikan (Japan) Business
Eric Karros A's UCLA Economics
Jon Knott Padres Mississippi State Business
Brandon Larson Reds LSU Information Systems
Kerry Ligtenberg Blue Jays Minnesota Chemical Eng.
Mark Loretta Padres Northwestern Business
Mike Lowell Marlins Florida International Finance
Billy McMillon A's Clemson Economics
Jamie Moyer Mariners Indiana General Studies
Mike Mussina Yankees Stanford Economics
Wes Obermueller Brewers Notre Dame Accounting
Mark Prior Cubs USC Business
Paul Quantrill Yankees Wisconsin Marketing
Mike Remlinger Cubs Dartmouth Economics
Dave Roberts Dodgers UCLA History
Scot Shields Angels Lincoln Memorial (TN) Kinesiology
So Taguchi Cardinals Doshisya (Japan) Business
Todd Walker Cubs LSU Business
Woody Williams Cardinals Houston Not available
Tony Womack Cardinals Guilford (NC) Sports Mgmt.
Scott Schoeneweis White Sox Duke History
Scott Sullivan Royals Auburn Business
Shingo Takatsu White Sox Asia Univ. (Japan) Economics
I’m honored and privileged to be standing here in front of everyone on one of the most special days in your life. They say getting married, having kids and graduating from college are the three events that you will always remember. Well, I graduated and I’m married, so I guess I have only one more, I guess.
As I thought about what I should say to the this class of 2004, it was suggested that I talk about what my degree would mean to me or how USC has been a big part of my life. When I think back about it, I’m sure we all have similar experiences. I’m sure everyone has had experiences, hopefully more positive than negative. Some of the things that I have experienced in the last two or three years, especially in baseball, hopefully I can express to you and help you in the long run.
Even though I don’t have to put on a suit every morning at 8 a.m., we all have one thing in common and that’s fear. Call it fear of the unknown, fear of failure or just fear that you can’t schedule your social life around your classes. (crowd laughter) Anyway you look at it, these things are always intimidating. Everything seems to scare you at first. When I was drafted out of high school by the New York Yankees, I decided to turn them down to pursue an education. (crowd applause) I thought it was the hardest decision I ever had to made, but I figured I wanted to see where the next three or four years would take me.
I started at Vanderbilt University, but unfortunately, things didn’t work out. I decided to transfer to USC to continue my education. I’m sure we all remember that first day we attended USC. Where would we live? Who would be our classmates? And how would we eat somewhere else besides Café 84? All of those things scared me. Fortunately, I was drafted by the Chicago Cubs and given a chance to play professional baseball once again. It was a dream come true to be given a second chance. I was pitching at Wrigley Field against players that I had grown up idolizing my entire life. You talk about being nervous and being scared? All of these feelings I had are natural. I know a lot of you are sitting out there going ‘well, I don’t play baseball’ and ‘I have to find a job’ and ‘I have to make money on my own.’ I understand these differences, but just because I’m playing baseball and you are doing something different, we all have our fears of the unknown.
My message to you today is to trust your abilities. Take each day one at a time. You are not going to become the chairman of Disney overnight (referring to Dick Cook, chairman of Walt Disney Studios, who spoke following Prior) and I’m sure Mr. Cook can relate to this. Trust in your abilities. You would not be sitting here today if you were not qualified to make it in the real world. You have worked hard, just like I have, to be where you are today. Many of you have doubts and many of you are still looking for jobs. Either way, there are going to be times where life keeps you down, when things aren’t exactly what you envisioned coming out of college. Be confident and positive. Let your abilities carry you to success and take it one step at a time. It’s what I tell myself every day. It’s what gets me through the tough stretches. Having a degree from USC is a major accomplishment for me, as well as it should be for you. (USC Associate) Dean Ellis alluded to the fact that I’m only one of 17 current major leaguers with a college degree. (Chicago Cubs pitcher) Greg Maddux told me yesterday, ‘Boy, you are overqualified for this job.’ (crowd laughter) You think I’m proud of that comment? You bet I am. Your degree is something that no one can take away from you. Your degree will open up doors that would never be offered otherwise. I will always remember where I come from. You should trust in our SC family because we are always looking out for each other. Thank you.
The San Francisco Chronicle did a survey to follow up and found that there were actually 42 graduates, listed above.
But, to the point, what the shit? 42/750 means that 5.6% of MLB players have a College Degree. According to Census data from 2002, 27% of adults over age 25 have college degrees. Now, apparently about 23% of players are from Latin American countries, and hence it doesn’t make sense to match them to US Census data. Even if you take them out of the sample, that still only 7.6% of MLB players with degrees. As a counter-example, about half of Pro Football players have degrees. So, um, I’m hungry and that’s all I’m going to do stats wise. I got this chicken from Coco Rico but I’ve been gnawing on it for days and now I feel like I’m eating roadkill. Maybe those avocados are ripe…
Anyways, I wouldn’t trade my degree for a MLB run (though I’m sure Merit Buckley would). While I was balling I would be balling (and hence not saving). It’s all good if you’re A-Rod and you can open a restaurant or something, but what if you’re mediocre? Then you turn 35, can’t play no more and you still have to pay off all the stupid shit you bought.
The San Francisco Chronicle article covers the issue pretty thoroughly and I’ve attached it after the jump. Props to John Shea.
In the Giants’ season-ender in 1993, the bitter 12-1 loss in Los Angeles, Eric Karros singled, doubled and tripled to help eliminate the Giants from the playoff race despite 103 wins.
Instead of going on vacation, like most teammates, Karros completed his college education at UCLA and earned a degree in economics.
“Academics are an important part of my family,” Karros said. “My mom graduated from San Diego State, my dad from Yale. I went to college because of academics and then talked to the coach about playing baseball as a walk-on.”
Karros is a rare breed, a big-leaguer with a diploma. He’s one of two A’s with four-year degrees — Billy McMillon (Clemson) is the other; the Giants have nobody. In all, there are just 42 players in the majors who graduated from a four-year college, according to a survey of all teams conducted by The Chronicle.
Baseball’s draft begins on Monday, and the most preferred available players will be college juniors, who will leave school to sign professional contracts and likely won’t return to the classroom. Others will be drafted out of community colleges and high schools.
The system makes it nearly impossible for students to take enough units to graduate from college before turning pro. Conversely, the NFL, which has no minor leagues and uses colleges as an inexpensive feeder system, has 880 players and “about half” have college degrees in 2003, according to the league’s Players Association.
The Carolina Panthers had more graduates (43) than the combined total from baseball’s 30 current rosters, which include 750 players and more on the disabled list.
A degree might not help a guy hit a breaking ball or make a diving catch, but it might be useful for the great majority of pros who can’t cut it in the majors. Returning to college, however, isn’t a common practice.
“I think this is an issue. Unfortunately, it’s not talked about much,” Stanford coach Mark Marquess said. “The way the system is, there are so many minor-league rosters they have to fill with players, but at what cost? We all know very few players ever make it, and it’s not a realistic dream.
“And then to send your son to college for three years and not have him earn a degree? That would be a sin. If the (graduation) percentage is low for college players, what about the kids who sign out of high school? Their chances of getting a college degree are almost nil.”
Marquess said he encourages his players to enroll in enough classes so they’d be at least one quarter ahead after three years. That way, if they get drafted and later return to school, the load would be lessened. But for utility infielder Brian Dallimore, 30, a Stanford product who has been living his big-league dream (the Giants demoted him to the minors Friday), a psychology degree can wait even if he’s one course short.
“My family wouldn’t let me not get it done,” Dallimore said. “It’s something I want to have personally and something my parents have interest in seeing me get done. When I’m done playing, I want as many doors open to me as I can. With a degree, you’re able to pursue more things.”
Karros, who went from a walk-on freshman to third-team All-American as a junior, was two quarters shy of a degree when he joined the Dodgers’ farm system in 1988. He returned to school after reaching the majors, re-enrolling at UCLA in the fall of ’92 and again in the fall of ’93 — he had free time because the Dodgers weren’t in the playoffs either year.
As one of baseball’s few college graduates, Karros won’t knock the system, saying, “It’s not baseball’s responsibility to have kids graduate from college. The chances of playing professional baseball are next to nothing, but it’s a chance people take.”
An exception is Cubs pitcher Mark Prior, who signed a $10.5 million contract after his junior year at USC but returned to earn a degree and addressed his fellow business school graduates last month. In his speech, Prior said he was one of 17 big-leaguers with four-year degrees, but the total is more than twice that.
“Greg Maddux told me yesterday, ‘Boy, you are overqualified for this job, ‘ ” Prior said in his speech. “You think I’m proud of that comment? You bet I am.”
Chronicle staff writer Henry Schulman contributed to this report.