Baseball journeyman Eddie Lehr ’15 doesn’t mind being compared to Jonah Hill. Ever humble, Eddie just thinks a comparison to a different, background character is probably more accurate. In the 2011 film “Moneyball,” Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill play Oakland Athletics personnel who pioneer using data analytics to evaluate potential baseball players and assemble a competitive team. Based on the Oakland Athletics’ real 2002 season, the film captures the moment when many Major League Baseball teams began to approach scouting using sophisticated mathematical modeling to analyze players and capitalize on underrecognized talent.
Eddie is a former Blair baseball pitcher and college player now serving as the Cincinnati Reds’ amateur video scout and analyst, a position in which he evaluates and helps acquire potential players. As the new member on the Reds’ management team, he relates to Jonah Hill’s role in the movie and uses his background in economics and business analytics to supplement the team’s more conventional scouting efforts.
Eddie also works with another Blair graduate, Jeff Graupe ’02, the Reds’ senior director of player personnel. In addition to evaluating players, Jeff plays a key role in the team’s salary arbitration, free agent recruiting and draft negotiations. As the Reds look for new and creative ways to acquire talent, both men use data analytics to inform their decisions.
Recognizing that these alumni hold positions that are likely of interest to Blair’s students, Director of Alumni Relations Shaunna Murphy welcomed the opportunity to bring Eddie and Jeff back to Blairstown for a new event series at Blair. Titled the Young Alumni Professional Panels (YAPP), the series promises to connect students directly with alumni who are just a few years out of school to talk about the work they do. “This series is a great way to show students what opportunities they can pursue and to start to network early. Networking is all about connecting people. These panels are exactly that,” said Mrs. Murphy.
The Genesis of the Panels
History department chair Jason Beck, who oversees the panel discussions, said the YAPP series was born out of a desire to help Blair students better understand the breadth of options that exist in the job market. “Many Blair students are already thinking about their future,” said Mr. Beck. “We wanted to create a mechanism for students to explore the questions they have about future careers.”
Frequently, students get stuck in siloed thinking about traditional positions. “Our goal is to expose students to a variety of paths that they may not think about,” explained Mr. Beck. “Many students say that they want to go into finance or business, but often, they don’t really know what that is. The panels will give students a better idea of the concrete possibilities that are out there and show the process that other alums have used to get those positions.”
To that end, Blair kicked off the YAPP series last month with a discussion featuring Blair alumni who now work for consulting firms, including: Elliot Parauda ’09, recruiter for information technology firm the Eliassen Group; and Brandon Hardman ’10, consultant for the Scandinavian engineering, consulting and design company AFRY.
On October 21, Jeff Graupe ’02 and Eddie Lehr ’15 will lead the discussion about sports management and their experience with the Cincinnati Reds baseball team. Other upcoming guests in the series include marketing industry specialists Lauren Keiling ’04 from ESPN, Alexa (Gilmartin) Jachowski ’08 from Reckitt and Paula Hong ’16 from Oracle Moat.
The YAPP series is being worked into Blair’s regular Thursday evening programming, which includes The Romano Art Gallery openings and current events conversations with Mr. Beck. Students will attend in person and, following a brief talk from the panel, have the opportunity for questions and discussion.
It is Mr. Beck’s hope that these alumni panels open doors as well as minds for students. “The series will help students make connections with these alumni that can continue after that evening,” he said.
Eddie Lehr didn’t start out knowing what career he wanted, but he feels fortunate to have traveled the path he has—from pitching to Coach Wagner on Blair’s baseball mound to working alongside a fellow Buc in the sport he loves. “This is my dream job. I haven’t worked a day since I graduated college,” he said brightly. “If sharing that experience helps others find their way, I am happy to do it.”
Students may join Mr. Beck, Jeff and Eddie in person next Thursday at 7 p.m. in Tracy Hall to hear the compelling story of how two Blair athletes made their careers at the Cincinnati Reds.