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Summer 2002 | Volume 25, Number 3 | Faculty
Baseball: From Genesis to Numbers

SEATTLE PACIFIC UNIVERSITY Professor of History Bill Woodward loves to talk baseball — and people love to listen. He's currently on a two-year-long lecture circuit, speaking to audiences in small towns across Washington state. One of his topics, based on a University Seminar class he teaches for SPU freshmen, is the history of baseball presented as a microcosm of the history of America.

Small-town Washington is enjoying Professor Bill Woodward's traveling lectures on "Baseball in America: A Cultural Epic of Biblical Proportions." This photo of Woodward reciting "Casey at the Bat" was published in The Othello Outlook.
Recently he delivered the lecture, "Baseball in America: A Cultural Epic of Biblical Proportions," five times in 10 days. "This past academic year I had more than 20 speaking engagements," says Woodward, "from Walla Walla to Orcas, from Hoquiam to Metaline Falls." He speaks in school auditoriums, libraries, grange halls and church basements. "It's wonderful to see how many people in small towns are enthused about intellectual offerings," he says.

The lecture is part of "Inquiring Mind," a successful program of the Washington Commission for the Humanities. Twenty scholars are chosen to participate in the program for two-year terms. Each prepares two lectures, which are then offered statewide.

Woodward sees this off-campus work as strategic outreach. "It's an opportunity for people to hear a representative from SPU, and it's an educational service to our communities," he says. "Because I use biblical language to represent the primary epochs of baseball and American history, it's also a way of reminding people that understanding religious allusions is important to being an educated person."

From the "genesis" of the 19th-century game to baseball's current obsession with "numbers," Woodward uses his witty biblical allusions to draw people into history. He also gives a one-man rendition of the beloved poem from 1888, "Casey at the Bat."

"Baseball has changed little since 1888," says Woodward. "It still attracts us because, like life itself, it combines stretches of inaction with moments of intense action." Though the game seems timeless, he continues, it also reflects historical changes. From race relations to media-created celebrities, patriotic symbols to labor struggles, he shows how "baseball marks the times and mirrors the culture."

Next up? In September, Woodward gives his baseball talks in two more Washington towns: Friday Harbor and Mount Vernon. Joining him on next year's circuit will be two other Seattle Pacific faculty members: Don Holsinger and Todd Rendleman. For more information, visit .


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From the President
The Board of Trustees adopted a new SPU mission statement in May 2002. "I believe passionately in what we are trying to articulate here," says President Philip Eaton.

Commencement 2002
Graduates celebrate their hard-earned diplomas - and create The Class of 2002 Endowment. [Campus]

Tiffany Bricks Project
Alumni, friends and members of the SPU community are invited to purchase and inscribe a brick from the former Tiffany Hall. Funds will directly benefit student scholarships. [Alumni]

Varsity Pair Rows to Gold
The Falcon women's varsity pair crew shell rowed to its first national championship gold medal in the Dad Vail Regatta. [Athletics]

My Response
Nick Glancy, Class of 2002, writes about September 11, the Gospel of John and J.R.R. Tolkien in this new Response department. [My Response]