Purdue Alumni Exclusive: Play Ball!

Unique online course celebrates 150 years of Purdue, Major League Baseball

Purdue University isn’t alone in celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2019. So is Major League Baseball!

To mark the occasion, the Purdue Alumni Association has teamed with Purdue University Global to offer a complimentary online course, Take Me Out to the Ball Game: 150 Years, offered through Purdue University Global.

Baseball is more than just a sport. America’s favorite pastime offers a unique window into American history, culture, and politics — and, to top it off, plenty of connections with Purdue.

This course is for more than just baseball fans.

Are you an American history enthusiast? Want to learn more about leadership and talent management? How about the rise of women in sports or the civil rights movement? Interested in data and decision-making?

This course is for you.

Professor Bios

Rebecca Herman

Rebecca Herman

Professor of Leadership, Purdue University Global

Rebecca Herman teaches various graduate business courses, with emphasis on leadership and organization development. She started her academic career at Purdue University Global (formerly Kaplan University) in 2005 as an academic department chair, then assistant dean of faculty, followed by interim dean and associate dean. Herman later returned to teaching full time as an opportunity to reconnect with students and pursue research interests.

Herman has been cited for her expertise on leadership in Major League Baseball by the Society of American Baseball Research and in publications such as CEO. For her book, Lead Me Out to the Ballgame, she and co-author Howard Fero interviewed 20 MLB managers, spent time with 24 teams, and interviewed more than 100 players to determine key leadership success factors.

Herman’s love for baseball was influenced by her grandmother who played professionally during World War II. She shares her passion for baseball with her son. They have visited 26 of 30 MLB ballparks.

Randy Roberts

Randy Roberts

150th Anniversary Professor and Distinguished Professor of History, Purdue University

Randy Roberts was the 2015–2016 Charles Boal Ewing Chair of Military History at West Point. In addition to winning the Charles B. Murphy Outstanding Teaching Award at Purdue University and twice receiving Teacher of the Year in the School of Liberal Arts, he won the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Indiana Professor of the Year. He specializes in teaching military history (including courses on World War I and World War II), sports history, and popular culture.

Roberts is also an award-winning, best-selling author. His book Blood Brothers: The Fatal Friendship Between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X, co-authored with Johnny Smith, received featured reviews in the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times. His most recent book co-authored with Johnny Smith is A Season In the Sun: The Rise of Mickey Mantle.

Roberts has served frequently as a consultant and on-camera commentator for PBS, HBO, and History Channel. Two of the documentaries he was featured on won Emmy Awards. He lives in Lafayette, Indiana, with his wife Marjie.

Course Overview

Unit 1: Baseball – America’s Game
Celebrate Purdue University’s 150th Anniversary while taking a journey through American culture through the lens of baseball. Baseball gained a foothold in America during the Civil War and the first professional team was formed in 1869, the same year as Purdue University.
Unit 2: Nationalism and the Rise of Women in Sports
World War II spurred nationalism, affirmed the place of baseball as America’s game, and welcomed women into the sport with the creation of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, a significant milestone on the path toward Title IX and fuller participation of women in sports.
Unit 3: Diversity and Race Relations
World War II, in part a struggle against Nazi Germany’s twisted racial theories, underscored America’s own legacy of racism and inequality. After the war, millions of Americans called for their country to live up to its ideals of openness, equality, and a just society. Slowly the nation’s racial barriers began to crumble. Jackie Robinson and the integration of Major League Baseball led the much broader assault on other segregated institutions.
Unit 4: Labor Relations and Talent Management
“Whenever I say it’s a game, you say it’s a business. And then I say it’s a business, you say it’s a game,” complained a player to a team owner in a novel. More than any other industry, professional sports straddles the line between being a game and a business. And professional baseball was the first sport to confront the play/business issues, and it set the standard for other sports. From the age of the “reserve clause” to the era of collective bargaining, players and owners have struggled over salaries and profits, labor conditions, and work environments. Baseball offers a unique opportunity to explore yesterday’s and today’s challenges and opportunities with labor relations and talent management.
Unit 5: Using Decision Sciences for Results
Decision sciences are used in many industries today, but baseball began collecting statistics in the late 1800s and has continued to refine the use of metrics to drive results. Discover the man known as the father of baseball statistics as well as the milestones in the development of sabermetrics. Finally, learn how analytics and metrics are used to drive results in baseball.
Unit 6: Learning from Successful MLB Managers
Management and leadership have evolved over the last 150 years. What may have worked successfully in the 1930s when management was seen as a science, or in the 1970s when the focus was on strategic planning processes, or even in the 2000s when data and analytics became the norm may or may not work for the future. However, the common thread through the years has been people. Management and leadership require a human element. Regardless of the any current trend, the ability to understand and maximize the potential of others will likely remain a success factor for leaders. By studying 21 successful baseball managers, we understand the changes that have occurred as well as the similarities that have remained steadfast.
150 Giant Leaps