Physics meets baseball on the mound: the physicist-pitchers

Over the course of the six years of this blog, my most popular post continues to be – year after year – this post about the physics of baseball.  I love baseball.  It’s a great, very nuanced game.  Over the past few years I have also been lucky enough to have two baseball players as physics majors.  Both graduated today, both were/are pitchers (Bret Bartlett “retired” last year), and both took my quantum mechanics class this semester (and did very well – both have good, inquisitive minds though, much to my dismay, neither is heading straight to graduate school).

Today was unique, however.  Neil Hesek, our one still active physicist-pitcher, could not attend the regular graduation – along with 6 of his fellow seniors – because the Saint Anselm baseball team was, for only the second time in history, in the NCAA Division II playoffs and had to play a game smack in the middle of graduation.  Neil wasn’t pitching today, though he was the winning pitcher last night as the Hawks beat cross-town rival Southern New Hampshire University.  I watched him pitch a gem against another cross-town rival – and nationally ranked – Franklin Pierce University a few weeks ago (he pitches a mean splitfinger fastball).

Sadly, they were eliminated from the tournament today at the hands of LeMoyne (home of fellow FQXier and Quantum Times editorial board member David Craig).  Nevertheless, they went further into the post-season than any previous Hawks team.  Both Neil and Bret were a pleasure to have in class over the years (I taught them a number of courses and Neil was also my advisee) and I wish them luck in their future endeavors (and I hope at least one of them decides to give grad school a try down the road!).

As a final note, we had three other terrific graduates today as well from our department: Michael Sheridan, Tim Moreau, and Chris Benoit.  It was one of our strongest classes in awhile.  Good luck to all!


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