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Former baseball star and triple alumnus takes on data field with the Padres

by Jennifer Johnson,

The Padres are Connor Bailey’s team. As a boy raised in San Diego, he attended every game he could — his dad even pulled him out of school once to attend a playoff game — and he dreamed of joining the team one day.   

Now he has — just not in the way he expected. 

After graduating with his master’s degree in data science, Bailey BA’19, MBA/MS ’22 became a business analyst for the team. Getting the job was a big deal — he’s cared about the Padres for so long, watching it transform from a low payroll, small market team into a big spending World Series contender. Now he can support them in a different way, he said. 

“From an emotional standpoint, it’s so great to be part of an organization that has come this far,” he said. “Everyone’s really excited. Giving the city a good reason to go out and watch every day is the coolest part for me.” 

Yet in a stunning move last May, he applied for a job with the rival Dodgers. A QA analyst position he was qualified for opened (“It took a lot to even apply,” he said jokingly), and while he didn’t move to the formal interview stage, the Padres called soon after. 

His new career would surprise few. Bailey graduated from Willamette University with an economics major and a long list of accomplishments on the baseball field. He ended his senior year with career records — one for amassing 213 hits, another for 615 at bats — and he was one of three finalists for the 2019 Ad Rutschman Small College Men's Athlete of the Year Award, to name a few. “My ultimate goal was to play as long as I could,” he said. “I was close to going further after college, but it didn’t happen and that’s why I got into coaching. It’s funny how it all worked out.” 

Bailey then pursued his MBA along with coaching the following year. A statistics class with Associate Professor of Quantitative Methods Robert Walker opened his eyes to the possibilities of data science and led him to the MBA/MSDS program. 

The MBA gave him the feel of the corporate world while the data science program trained him in SQL, R and Python. Both degrees taught him the art of interviewing and presenting information to a variety of audiences, which was invaluable to landing the Padres job. “Without the experience from the data science program, just the technical side alone, I don’t think I would have even qualified for it,” he said. 

Although he’s spending more time with data than being on the field, his goal is the same — to see his hometown team grow into an epic success. He’s working with great people who can offer him a wealth of knowledge and enjoying everything he can. 

“I used to think about the future more and it would stress me out,” he said. “Right now, I’m just trusting that I’m in the right position and I’m right where I’m supposed to be.” 

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