November 5, 2019
The bustling activity of people at the concession stands, proudly displaying their team colors from head to toe, the excitement and adrenaline pumping through the audience as the first player steps up to bat.
To Jason Lee (12), it’s an atmosphere that has fueled his love for baseball and sabermetrics—the sensation of gripping the bat while facing off his opponents, the calculations factored into analyzing each play, and the spirit and enthusiasm he exudes as an avid fan. Despite only playing for a few years, Jason has fallen in love with not only the sport itself, but with the art of sabermetrics: the analysis that statisticians and mathematicians pore over.
It’s a lesser known aspect of baseball that isn’t as popular in Hong Kong or anywhere else. Yet, this has become his life passion, filling him with a drive to pursue excellence in the future, and an opportunity for him to utilize his talents as a mathematician in the world of baseball.
The beginning of his passion Jason said there are two starting dates that made him fall in love with the sport: when he first discovered baseball and when he first began to play in a team. He discovered baseball when his uncle took him to watch his favorite team play live and immediately fell in love with the atmosphere.
“In baseball, there’s a lot of things happening outside of the game: the people in the concession stand, the bustling activity, the people talking, the kiss cam,” Jason explained. “I really enjoyed the experience but I mostly fell in love with the atmosphere that baseball provided me with, and that immediately became one of my passions.”
His first time stepping up to bat in seventh grade was when his parents decided it was time for him to branch out and be more extroverted, interacting with other team members despite his reclusive personality. Growing up, Jason moved around a lot—something he blamed his shyness on—making commitment to an extracurricular activity especially difficult.
But after playing on Little League for the next three years, Jason started playing for HKIS Junior Varsity Baseball Team in his freshman year, finally joining the Varsity team in his junior year.
Sabermetrics Having always been a gifted statistician, Jason eventually discovered sabermetrics: the marriage of maths and baseball and the opportunity to apply his talents to his passion.
After attending the 48th annual Society of American Baseball Research convention in Pittsburgh the summer of his junior year, he met general managers who “revolutionized the way that statistics are being used” and “pioneered the movement” as well as other students who were just as passionate as he.
Being able to join a community of people who are as devoted to the sport as he has only further fueled his drive and hunger to succeed in the field of sabermetrics in his future.
Personal growth But above all, on a much more sentimental and personal level, baseball is more than just a sport to Jason—opening countless doors for him and becoming an essential part of his character Jason says one of the biggest aspects that saw a change was his attitude and personality, especially in his social life.
“Growing up as an only child without that much social interaction, my characteristics tended to be self-focused. I used to be very arrogant, really sensitive about things, and I wasn’t the most socially optimal person,” he said.
Baseball also allowed him to build relationships—something he considers the most positive change in his life.
Jason said, “Baseball created a commonality between me and others, particularly my parents, and not only improved my relationships with them, but made them special as well.” Baseball also taught Jason the importance of humility and perseverance, especially in his sophomore year when he was cut from the JV baseball team after a long summer without any practice.
Although he admitted that this was an embarrassing moment in his baseball journey, it ultimately pushed him to train harder, serving as motivation to get him to where he is today. “It’s made me someone that’s really accepting of failure. People say I’m very nonchalant about things, and I think that characteristic is something that I never really had but that baseball has helped me instill,” he added.
With so much unpredictability on the field, Jason also explained that baseball has helped him remain humble and optimistic when overcoming his failures, something he applies to his academic life, as well as to his other extracurriculars.
Advice Jason’s advice to people who are interested in joining baseball or any other new extracurricular? “You need to welcome fear,” he said. “Seeking discomfort can lead to you finding something new that you love.”
He added that he wouldn’t be at the stage he’s at now, nor would he have become a team player, had he not pushed himself outside of his comfort zone in the first place. He said, “Be confident in yourself and allow yourself to make mistakes.”
Baseball played an integral role in Jason's growth. “It’s a unique thing for me: to me, it’s more than just a sport because it’s shaped so much of who I am today, introducing me to my life passion, and something that will be at the center of my relationships with other people,” he further added.
Jason’s journey of discovery has allowed him to pursue a future that will continue to excite and inspire him as he continues on his path of success in the field of sabermetrics. His story urges other students to pursue their passions and to seek discomfort in order to explore futures in areas they may have otherwise never considered.