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A May Birthday: So That Explains Why I Was Such a Lousy Baseball Player

My college friend Greg Spira writes in Slate about the exaggerated share of American-born Major League Baseball players with fall birthdays.

This is more evidence in support of the idea that arbitrary eligibility cutoffs for youth sports programs have long-term impacts on who invests in the sport and eventually reaches the highest levels.

One of our earlier Freakonomics columns in the New York Times talked about this phenomenon in soccer.

I wish I could blame my baseball failures on my May birthday. In actuality, I think there were more proximate causes:

First, I was embarrassed that I needed glasses. So after my parents dropped me off, I would take off my glasses and put them in the pocket of my uniform instead of wearing them. I’m sure I would have been a better hitter if I could have seen the ball. (As an aside, it shows just how much times have changed that my parents didn’t stay for the games of their 7-year-old.)

Second, I idolized Jack Nicklaus, who used an interlocking grip when he played golf. I decided it would be a good idea to use an interlocking grip on the baseball bat, too.

In retrospect, that probably was not too smart.