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A Triple Play: Mathematics, Baseball, And Storytelling

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Innovative Instructional Strategies and Curricula

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

15.107.1 - 15.107.18



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Paper Authors


Robert Homolka Kansas State University, Salina

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Robert is on the faculty at K-State in Salina where he teaches Mathematics classes in the Arts, Sciences and Business Department. Besides teaching, he has umpired collegiate baseball for over 30 years including the College World Series and a stint in the Major Leagues. Homolka also organizes umpire camps and does guest presentations, using stories, on baseball, mathematics and umpiring.

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Greg Stephens Kansas State University, Salina

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Greg is on the faculty at K-State in Salina where he teaches Supervisory Management, Labor
Relations and Business in the Technology Management program. Greg has serves on numerous non-profit boards and has consulted with local and regional industry in human resource training. Greg currently incorporates storytelling as a teaching pedagogy in his courses and he led K-State in a Diversity Storytelling Project

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A Triple Play: Mathematics, Baseball, and Storytelling


There are many effective teaching pedagogies. One way we have found to produce results is to combine the use of storytelling about baseball in mathematics classes. This paper will illustrate a positive relationship between the three different subjects of baseball, storytelling and mathematics and explain why teachers may want to explore this triple play combination as part of their pedagogy.

First, there is more to teaching mathematics than solutions to math problems. Mathematics instruction involves thinking skills such as grouping, ordering, pairing, memory, and number related problems, all cognitive capabilities that create the framework for a student’s understanding of math. Mathematics also involves ideas such as rotation, magnitude, curves, space, change, spirals, probabilities, equations, roots and other concepts.

Second, many of these same math concepts are also found in the game of baseball which not only lends itself to math problems, but can be developed into stories that become metaphors to assist in the cognitive understanding of mathematical concepts and thinking skills.

Finally, a growing body of research also supports the pedagogy of storytelling in a host of settings including the academic environment. Businesses, hospitals, governmental bodies and schools are discovering the power of stories to shape listeners’ understanding and awareness.

This study examines research on mathematical learning and storytelling and uses the action research of baseball umpiring to illustrate how baseball and storytelling can be used effectively in a math classroom. Both have singular benefits. Combined they have even stronger benefits as assessed by student retention numbers, student evaluation, and student feedback. When baseball stories are used, students’ cognitive capabilities for the understanding of mathematics will increase.

Mathematics, Baseball, and Storytelling

the home team math’matically eliminated… autumn equinox1

Baseball is a game that can “make fans catch their breath and pause while the pitcher looks for a sign, the moment a rookie gets picked off first, or the instant the batter lashes a homer into the night sky, just before the crowd explodes onto its feet.”2 Baseball, much like the popular Japanese form of poetry, Haiku, utilizes metaphors and mathematical form to tell its story.

Given recent math trends and headlines stating Sluggish Results Seen in Math Scores (New York Times, October 14, 2009), and Math-Abused Students: Are We Prepared to Teach Them? (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, May 1999) we suggest mathematics teachers look

Homolka, R., & Stephens, G. (2010, June), A Triple Play: Mathematics, Baseball, And Storytelling Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16859

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