Professor Selig’s Class Visits Miller Park
It’s been almost a year into his retirement but Commissioner Emeritus Selig is still hard at work advocating the game of baseball and curating its history.
This semester, he’s teaching a class at UW-Madison called “Baseball and Society Since World War II,” which culminated today in a visit to Miller Park.
The 22 students who, over the course of the semester, had the unique experience to learn the history of the game from a man who was instrumental in shaping it, took a bus to the ballpark this afternoon.
The first thing they did was visit the Selig Experience.
I tagged along with the group and it was almost surreal to see the history unfolding through the story in the exhibit while sitting in such close proximity to Selig himself.
Not unlike watching a DVD of a movie with the actor’s commentary piped in, Selig interjected his own remarks here and there while the students watched the show. For instance, near the beginning, he pointed at an old black and white photo that appeared on screen and explained, “That’s my mother.”
Following the Selig Experience, the group made its way to the Media Interview Room, where they heard from two special guest speakers: Brewers Chief Operating Officer Rick Schlesinger and General Manager David Stearns.
Schlesinger gave the students some background on the business side of the Club, covering topics like market size, television revenue and how we connect with our fans, while Stearns discussed his philosophy and approach to the baseball side of the business, touching on items like statistics and the MLB Draft.
In particular, Stearns noted that it was a statistics course that he took from Professor Carl Morris at Harvard that helped to stoke his interest in the analytics side of the game and emphasized how lucky the students are to have Selig as their professor.
“I imagine you’ve had an incredible semester,” Stearns said to the students. “It’s a pretty unique experience and it must be extremely illuminating.”
When asked to give advice to the class, Schlesinger stressed communications skills and relationships.
“Be an incredible writer. Writing is still the most important tool on the business side that we use,” he said.
“Once you get your first job it’s important to make connections. This is really a people business. Connections will help you in furthering your career and also in attracting talent to come to your organization– build relationships. The three biggest things are communications skills, perseverance and connections,” he emphasized.
Echoing that, Stearns noted, “I would also add persistence. A lot has been made that I’m 30, but it took me three internships to get my first full-time job. You can’t get down on yourself if it doesn’t work out. You just need to look for the next opportunity.”
Following the Q&A, the group received a tour of the Brewers Clubhouse and got to visit the dugout and field.
As it was the last day of class, many students seized the opportunity to pose for photos with their professor and some even had him autograph baseballs.
Selig, who is also a part of Marquette University’s Sports Law program, said his favorite part about teaching is just being with the kids.
“This is a great group of kids. They’re smart. I hope my next group starting in January is just as good.”