As you’ve seen, this quarter’s newsletter is dedicated to the increased use of analytics in multiple areas of the insurance industry. This should come as no surprise, as actuaries always have been wired to drill deep into statistical analysis, including numerous fronts outside the walls of an insurance company. Sure, poker and playing the stock market have come on strong in the past decade as extracurricular outlets for actuaries. But, baseball always has been king. The statistical component of America’s national pastime has no peer.
Sure, many will argue with you until they’re blue in the face that football has surpassed baseball as our country’s leading sports product. And they’re right…from November to early February. But once the Super Bowl Over-Hyped Game And Commercial Let- Down Extravaganza has run its course, the hot stove talk of baseball starts simmering to the surface. And the stats behind the players will always be part of the discussion, as they have been for decades. Baseball cards were the first vehicle for displaying players’ stats on a national basis.
As a baseball junky kid in the late ‘60s/early ‘70s, not many things were more fun than ripping open a packet of new baseball cards, jamming the hard wafer of sugar-dusted gum in your mouth and whiffling through the players. Would I finally get an Ernie Banks to round out my Cubs collection? Why do I keep getting multiples of Dick Selma? Hey, Joe Pepitone’s hair is mighty long! To me, stats were never the most interesting thing about the playing cards. I focused on the biographical information above the stats that gave you a snippet of how the player came to be, including the varied and exotic cities, er, towns, the player traversed along the way to making it to the major leagues. That probably explains why I was a journalism, rather than math, major in college.
I wondered what it would be like to play Single A baseball in Billings, Montana, under the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains. And if I were a Double A player in Bakersfield, CA would I drive to Los Angeles and watch the major league Dodgers when I didn’t have a game? Hey, this player’s twin brother also played baseball in the minor leagues…gosh, what’s he doing now? Does he go to work in the morning like my Dad does? A thought hit me recently. The stats and the stories behind each baseball player truly are unique. Why not have “baseball cards” for other professions!
Could you imagine swapping CEO cards? Zookeeper cards? 7-11 clerk cards? You name it… there are going to be stats and stories behind each that would give you pause to read the back of the card. I would hope that Topps still would include the wretched gum and occasional All-Star cards for each profession, too. Just imagine a leisurely bicycle ride in your neighborhood with Warren Buffet clicking around the spokes. I believe this idea has legs, as they say. Especially since football cards never went anywhere.