Sociology’s Lucky Tedrow finishes new study on the career spans of MLB pitchers

by Jane Footh, WWU Office of Communications and Marketing Intern

Retiring Western Washington University Sociology professor Lucky Tedrow has published new innovative findings on the working lives of major league baseball pitchers.

In collaboration with David Swanson of University of California at Riverside, Jack Taymen of the University of California at San Diego and Jack Baker of HealthFitness Corporation, Tedrow found career expectancies of MLB pitchers to be much shorter than one would think, with the average career in the Big Leagues lasting just about four years.

The research took about a year to complete before the paper was ready to submit to the American Statistical Association.

“We had no preconceptions about what to expect when we started our research,” Tedrow said. “We viewed it as exploratory because so little information is available on working-life expectancy in professional sports.”

The lack of information on career duration of MLB players and other sports stems from the labor-intensive process it requires to determine the durations, but Tedrow said a benefit of this new information can be used for MLB pitchers and their careers moving forward.

“If I was entering professional baseball as a pitcher, I would use the information from this study on my working-life expectancy in my contract negotiations,” Tedrow said.

Tedrow and Swanson are both Western alumni and baseball fans, and have played softball for a good part of their lives starting with intramural softball at Western back in 1970.

Tedrow recently retired after 30 years teaching at Western, but said he is not finished with his research endeavors.

“I am looking forward to having a courtesy appointment as a research associate with the Sociology Department at Western and continuing work on this project and some others that I am considering,” Tedrow said.

The media has been interested in these findings as well; one article that appeared in phys.org can be found at https://phys.org/news/2018-07-short-tumultuous-life-major-league.html.

For more information on his research, contact Lucky Tedrow at lucky.tedrow@wwu.edu.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2018 - 9:43am

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