On Baseball and Critiquing Things You Love

Katherine Walden is an assistant teaching professor of American studies at Notre Dame and an affiliated faculty member of the Notre Dame Technology Ethics Center. Her research employs data analysis, visualization, and interactive digital mapping to illustrate the scale and scope of Minor League Baseball labor, as well as the historical forces and labor structures that shape minor league players’ working conditions.

Why Minor League Baseball? After all, the vast majority of baseball fans’ attention goes to the likes of the Chicago Cubs, the St. Louis Cardinals, the Boston Red Sox, and the other 27 clubs that make up Major League Baseball.

But as Katherine points out, 90 percent of professional baseball players are actually minor leaguers, who for the most part grind out their days in relative anonymity. Her work has grown out of asking: What happens if we put that 90 percent at the center?

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