Baseball Maps and GIS

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Baseball, noted as the national pastime of the United States, engages many fans from Opening Day in April up until the World Series is held in October of each year.

So how do cartography and baseball mix?  Very well in some cases.  You can even put your map on an actual baseball or you can go old fashioned and use push pins to chart the baseball stadiums you’ve visited with this map from Hammacher Schlemmer.

The more interesting examples of baseball maps are listed below with a bonus section about using GIS to learn about baseball from a geographic perspective.

United Countries of Baseball Map

What would the territories be of Major League Baseball (MLB) teams?  This fictitious map  looks at the supposed territories of the National and American leagues based on local fan loyalty.

The map was created by Nike as a promotional campaign in 2007 as part of the launch of an apparel line with MLB and was created by the ad agency, Cole and Weber United.  A case study from Cole and Weber United proposed the campaign as a way for Nike to build a relationship with “fans, not just athletes.”

According to a promotional piece echoing the case study (YouTube video), this campaign has a second part envisioned which incorporated fan input in making a second map for the following year.  I can only assume this marketing campaign was unsuccessful because neither a second map nor the associated apparel exists.  The referenced unitedcountriesofbaseball.com domain now is occupied by Thai content.

United Countries of Baseball

CommonCensus Baseball Fan Loyalty Map

Similar to Nike’s fan loyalty map, the CommonCensus Map Project attempted to map out fan baseball loyalty boundaries but used crowd-sourced input.  With over 39,000 fan votes so far, the color-coded map shows where the most ardent fans live.  The eastern portion of the United States has the most votes, with most of that area covered.  The western side of the U.S. is sparsely filled in.  There is a clickable statistics option where 50 mile, 100 mile, and 200 mile statistics are returned with a breakdown of team votes.  Select the radius option and click on any point on the map to see the results.

Infinite Baseball Fields of America

Building on the concept that there is no explicit rule in baseball that foul lines end at the outfield fence, this map of the United States plots out the foul lines for each Major League baseball field until it runs off the edge of the map.  Posters of the map, sized 24″ x 18″ are for sale from Pop Chart Lab. A limited edition run of 500 copies, sign by the artists is available for $25 each.  No information is apparently available about who the cartographer is. each baseball field is label along a mythical outfield wall.

Infinite Baseball Fields of America
Infinite Baseball Fields of America

Map of Baseball Stadiums

This intricate map of the nation’s baseball stadiums was created by Robert Sherby who runs Source Map, Inc in 1987.  The map contains an amazing amount of detail about each stadium and has historic baseball players placed around the country.

Baseball Stadiums map by Robert Sherby.

GIS and Baseball

Esri’s ArcLessons offers a GIS lesson entitled “”Play Ball! Spatial Analysis of Baseball Using GIS“.  Joseph Kerski, Education Manager for Esri, has a writeup explaining the Baseball and GIS lesson.  The lesson plan is dated from 2007 and references ArcExplorer (now known as ArcGIS Explorer), Esri’s free GIS data viewer.  Esri no longer supports ArcExplorer but offers a download link for it.   The lesson plan is target towards secondary level students and looks at answering geographic questions about baseball.

Using GIS to learn about baseball from Esri’s ArcLessons.

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