Since graduating, Nicholas Parson ’08, who double-majored in political science and African, African-American diaspora studies, has been pursuing his goal of working for a Major League Baseball team. He hasn’t made it yet, but his determination and enthusiasm for the journey are inspiring. So far he has interned for the Bourne Braves in the Cape Cod Baseball League and for the Hickory Crawdads (a Single-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers). Currently, he works as a media relations assistant with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (the Triple-A affiliate of the Phillies). He also serves as the president of the Harry M. Stevens Family Foundation, which is dedicated to the preservation of the history of sport. We talked to him about his pursuit:
Why this goal?
I grew up in a baseball family. I have always been a fan for as long as I can remember. I remember being a small child at Fenway Park and crying when the Red Sox were eliminated from the playoffs. I always wanted to know what it meant to be on the inside of a baseball team, something that seemed so mysterious and grand and prohibitive to the average person. That intrigue was heightened when I and five friends from Wheaton drove down to Ft. Myers, Fla., to see spring training games during break our junior year. While we were down there, I visited the Red Sox Player Development Complex, and that is where my desire to work in baseball was truly sparked. I saw the game in an entirely different light, and that’s where it began. I felt like it was my first peek behind the curtain, and I knew that I wanted to be there.
How does your Wheaton education come into play?
Every week, somebody will ask where I went to school and what I majored in. When I tell them I majored in political science and African, African American diaspora studies, the looks on most people’s faces are absolutely priceless. Most of the people that I work with have degrees either in journalism or sports management from huge state schools. People ask me how I ended up in baseball with this kind of background, and I tell them that it wasn’t what I learned in college that got me going, it’s how I learned to think about what’s around me. Looking at statistics and translating them into what they mean on a human level is a big part of political science. My Wheaton professors increased my ability to see those relationships. And African, African American diaspora studies has helped me immensely in my work. When I first took “African American Politics” with Professor Marcus Allen, it was one of those life-changing courses. In that class, I learned about how race works in politics as well as in our daily lives. In baseball, race is a tremendous presence. One of my favorite quotes comes from Martin Luther King Jr.: “Jackie Robinson made it possible for me in the first place. Without him, I would never have been able to do what I did.” Baseball is in many ways an embodiment of how the racial makeup of this country continues to change. I feel very fortunate that my education has given me a perspective on race and culture that allows me to be comfortably immersed in the multicultural environment of the “American pastime.”
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I like that I am forced to look at the game from both an analytical perspective and a human perspective. All morning I am involved in statistics and trends that I use to tell the story of our team—where they’re going this season, and how they’ve gotten to where they are. When it’s time to head to the clubhouse in the afternoon, I work with personalities. I am lucky to be able to work with a great group of players. The people you work with and meet can make or break the experience, so I’m very fortunate to be where I am right now.