Former Seattle Mariners Pitcher Dave Fleming Teaches Baseball By The Numbers



Clouds? This wasn’t
taken in the Kingdome!

 Pitcher Dave Fleming has been mastering a new pitch for the last nine years.

If being a former major leaguer isn’t enough to be granted rock-star status in the classroom, Fleming combines a ballpark field trip with math lessons. Imagine. Bring your glove and your calculator!

Fleming wrote:

“I have been a teacher for nine years. I am unaware of other ballplayers in the same profession.

My students take a field trip to a New Britain Rock Cat Game (double A – Twins) and they learn to compute batting ave., won-loss percentage for teams, and some learn ERAs.”

Sounding like a thoughtful educator, Fleming chose to differ from my assessment of Seattle’s Kingdome. I remembered seeing him pitch there. I told him it looked, and sounded, like kids more cool and talented than myself playing Nerf baseball in my family room basement. Without grading my Kingdome mini-essay, he said:

“I liked that the Kingdome was always the same temperature and you knew you were playing every day. (Except for the roof collapse.)

I was not crazy about the turf.”

For five years, Fleming had the best seat in the house to marvel at superstar teammate Ken Griffey, Jr. Did he have a favorite “Kid” memory?

“My favorite Griffey memory was just having the opportunity to watch him play every day. Sweet swing and a graceful outfielder.”

In teacherly fashion, he closed his letter with:

“Hope this answers your questions!

Dave Fleming”

I found a fun newspaper article from 2008 that touched on Fleming’s second career. Check out the classroom photo, too. I thought this was a student, not a teacher!

Meet Phillie Ted Kazanski, Boy Grand Slammer!

A half-century later, Ted’s autograph is the same!
Topps recycled his photo from 1954, right?

Infielder Ted Kazanski wasn’t the angry young man stereotype so common in pro sports today.

The Ballplayers bio notes that he was “one of the most highly rated schoolboy players of his time.” Kazanski reached the majors while toiling under the “bonus baby” banner.

Surprisingly, he had nothing bad to say about the press coverage he received.

“The press, for the most part, always treated me fairly, I thought. In some cases, they wrote about me in more complimentary ways than I thought was deserved at the time, probably because of their recognition of my youth and inexperience at the time.”

When 20-year-old Ken Griffey Jr. hit an inside-the-park homer, baseball historians looked to 1956. The National League had its own “Kid,” too.

“My inside-the-park homer came against the Giants in the Polo Grounds. What made it kind of exciting for me was that it was a grand slam and we won the game.”

Thanks to http://www.retrosheet.org/, the day remains!

Any doubts about Kazanski’s experiences as a major leaguer were erased with his closing:

“Tom, Thanks for being a fan of baseball. It’s a great game!

Sincerely,
Ted Kazanski”

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