To compare base-running times
of middle school students with the running times of
Major League baseball players.
- For 73 baseball seasons, the Major
League record for the most runs scored was held by Ty
Cobb. That record lasted from 1928 to 2001 then along
came Rickey Henderson. Henderson was with the San Diego
Padres when he added the 2246th run of his career to
break Cobb's record.
Henderson holds records for the most stolen bases in a
single season (130) and in a career (1403).
Henderson takes off for second
- Henderson's ability to score
runs wasn't due to his batting skills. His
career batting average was .279. His ability
to get walks also helped---he holds
the record for the most bases on balls
What really helped
Henderson capture the scoring title was his
running ability. Henderson was able to get
himself into scoring position. He stretched
singles into doubles and stole bases with
By 2002, when Rickey Henderson
retired from baseball, he had added 42 more runs. That
brought his total for runs scored to 2288. That is now
the record to beat.
- Who will be the "Rickey Henderson"
of the future? You are a scout for the Boston Red Socks
and your assignment is to find as many potential "Rickey
Hendersons" as you can.
- You plan to start by looking at
boys and girls of middle school age. But there is a
problem. You can't just time them as they run from home
to first. Middle school kids are not as big or as strong
as adults are.
Today you will work with a class of
middle school students to test a procedure that you think
- The distance between the bases on
a Major League field is 90 feet. On a Babe Ruth League
field the distance is 60 feet.
You have decided to have a whole
class of middle school students run 60 feet as fast as
they can as you time them. You will record their times in
a table or chart.
Next you will use proportional
reasoning to calculate an estimate of everyone's time in
running the Major League distance of 90 feet. Enter these
estimates on the chart.
Calculate the median, and upper and
lower quartiles of your data. (A stem-and-leaf plot may
be useful here.)
Use a box-and-whisker plot to
display the data. Compare your data with average running
times of Major League players* and select any boys or
girls who show promise as a possible Rickey Henderson of
- The team needs a heads up on who
has potential for the future. Select the most promising
boys and the most promising girls then complete a Major
League Baseball Scouting Form that you will submit to
your team's Manager (your teacher). Attach your data
table to the back of the Form.
average running time from home to first for a Major
League player depends. For a left-handed batter the
average is 4.2 seconds. For a right-hander the average
is 4.3 seconds.
This activity was developed
by the Event-Based Science Institute with generous
support from the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation. A
version of this
and all other baseball/math activities is available
free from the Institute. This Base Running activity was
written by Jennifer Barrett, a mathematics teacher at The
Harbour School, Annapolis, MD..
© 2004-12 Event-Based Science Institute