Baseball and Education: Red Sox Know

March 13, 2012

“ Approximately one in 200, or .44 percent of high school seniors playing interscholastic baseball will eventually be drafted by an MLB team.”

The night before we spoke to the Red Sox minor leaguers, Nate and I went to the Red Sox/Rays game at jetBlue Park. The stadium was packed and shaped like a miniature Fenway. While I ate my first hot dog of the season, Nate was chatting to a family of Northeastern alumni who by chance were seated right next to us. I looked at the young girl in front of me, chomping on her popcorn, and remembered how much I love going to a baseball game. And how much I enjoy the Dream.

Nate Thomas is a talented enrolment coach for Northeastern’s College of Professional Studies. As we travel from team to team, he consults individually with players to show them how our program can work for them. He talks majors, classes, and transfer credit. I talk baseball and the importance of an education. We make a pretty good team.

The Red Sox made our presentation mandatory for all 2010 and 2011 draftees and optional for the rest. About 50 guys sat in the cafeteria, waiting for us to start and perhaps also waiting for us to end. After all, within the hour, they would all be on the field practicing what they do best and dreaming of what might come.

Prospective draftees are put in a precarious educational bind because of the way the MLB draft works. U.S. players are traditionally eligible to sign after they complete high school; anytime after entering junior college; or after three years (or turning 21) in a 4-year college/university. Meanwhile, international players may be signed at 16. There is much debate as to when a player should sign and these arguments are often based on the tangibles and intangibles, such as: talent, projection, education, money, and maturity.

What side of the argument one is on, is usually based on the role of the stakeholder. As I presented, I asked the Red Sox players to raise a hand if they had finished college; A small number went up. When I asked for players who had completed some college, half the room’s hands went up.

Former Major Leaguer and current sport psychology consultant for the Red Sox, Bob Tewksbury, shared his own perspective with the minor leaguers. He warned that while he had the chance to play pro ball for 18 years, he knew that in actuality he would spend most of his life not playing the game.

Baseball may be a game of dreams but it is also a game of decisions. After our presentation more than 25 players asked for more information on our degree program.

-To read more about Justine’s journey through spring training, visit