BHS and University of Chicago alum Maggie O’Hara is currently working a dream job for the MLB Detroit Tigers.
O’Hara has recently been promoted to Analyst, Baseball Operations, and is a part of the MLB Diversity and Inclusion Fellowship. The commissioner’s office initiated the Fellowship this year to tackle the lack of diversity in baseball front offices. O’Hara is currently the only woman on the Detroit Tigers’ analytics team.
O’Hara has been busy lately. In recent months, the team finished the Amateur Draft which has been a big focus for the organization this year as the Tigers had the number one overall pick. Living60010 spoke with O’Hara about her career and how Barrington helped prepare her for it.
Living60010: You played softball throughout high school and college. What drew you to the sport and why did you stick with it for so long?
Maggie O’Hara: I've played softball since the first year you could play Knothole and somewhere along that path completely fell in love with the game. As a kid, it was pure fun - getting outside and running around with friends - but as I grew up, the game became something different.
I've grown up through the sport; I can sincerely say that softball has shaped who I am today.
In Barrington, softball is a big deal. I remember looking up to the varsity softball team under Perry Peterson's exceptional coaching and wanting to be there someday. There is a rich tradition and culture engraved in the softball program at Barrington that made me want to be a part of it. Playing in high school didn't disappoint one bit, it was everything I could have imagined; from the most amazing coaches to the teammates who became best friends, and the trip downstate to cap my four years there. By that point, I was in a complete love affair with the game and there was no way I could see parting ways with the game.
Through Kathleen Duffy's coaching and guidance, I found the University of Chicago and fell in love with both what the school had to offer and their softball program. It became the perfect next step for both my softball and academic career.
Living60010: How did Barrington help prepare you for UChicago and for your current career?
Maggie O’Hara: Barrington did an amazing job to prepare me for the next chapter in my life. The rigorous class load I was able to take at BHS readied me for the rigorous inquiry that I experienced at UChicago.
On the softball side of things at BHS, playing a sport for such a storied program allowed my love for the game to foster. Perry Peterson has created an amazing program that made me fall absolutely in love with the sport -- the camaraderie, the team work, the joy. Softball has made me who I am today and playing under Coach P fostered my love and lead me to decide to keep playing in college.
Kathleen Duffy was a huge part of my formative years at Barrington -- she was my hitting coach in title, but more of a mentor and a friend. She introduced me to UChicago and helped me find my place there - for which I am forever grateful.
Living60010: You've been able to parlay your passion for both softball and statistics into your job as a Baseball Operations Analyst for the Detroit Tigers. How did you make that happen?
Maggie O’Hara: My four years at the University of Chicago were exceptional, I grew immensely in both the classroom and on the softball field. As time grew I began to think about what was next, to be honest, for a long time I thought I'd return to Barrington as a math teacher and coach softball.
The idea of teaching fell aside at some point through college but the desire to work in sports didn't. I began taking a plethora of economics and statistics classes and kept an eye on the community baseball research in my free time. I started to notice that the techniques I was learning in the classroom were applicable in sabermetrics so I began to explore my own softball data and public baseball data. As I did this, I recognized that there was a job path combining my favorite things - sports and statistics.
I did everything I could to work my way into the front office of a baseball team.
Living60010: Can you explain what your job entails?
Maggie O’Hara: I started working for the Detroit Tigers in July 2017 as a Baseball Operations Analytics Intern. The easiest way to describe what my job entails, is Moneyball. Essentially, my cohort and I spend every day running statistical analysis on various baseball data. Having a playing background has helped in my current position as I can look at baseball data with both an eye towards stats and their implementation to the on-field effect.
Living60010: What are your goals/future plans for your career?
Maggie O’Hara: In terms of future -- I'm not entirely sure what my future plans are... Right now, I love the position I have and look to grow in the Baseball Operations department. I'm at the point in my career where I want to experience all of the facets of the Baseball Operations department with an analytics bent, i.e. looking into contracts, trade talks, amateur draft, international signings, honing in a scouting eye, etc. There are so many facets of the Baseball Operations department that I'm incredibly excited to learn more about all of those things and see where my career takes me along the way.
Living60010: White Sox or Cubs? Or another team? Why?
Maggie O’Hara: I grew up a Cubs fan, being from the Northside. Although, living in Hyde Park for the last four years meant I attended way more White Sox games and an affinity for them grew as well. But now I'm 100% a Detroit Tigers fan.
Living60010: Got any insider information that Tigers fans have to look forward to?
Maggie O’Hara: As far as the Tigers go, we're in the beginning stages of a rebuild with a farm system starting to shape up. Since I started in July 2017, our roster makeup has changed a lot; we traded notable players such as Justin Upton, JD Martinez, and Justin Verlander for prospects. Our third baseman for the 2018 season will look familiar to a lot of Cubs fans, Jeimer Candelario. Candelario came over in the midseason trade that sent Alex Avila and Justin Wilson to the Cubs. He's someone who will be exciting to watch in Detroit for years to come.