Patrick B. Fisher - Founder
Patrick's love for measurement began as he learned of this discipline from his older brother, William. In the mid 1980s, William was enrolled in graduate school at The University of Chicago where he was learning educational measurement testing theory. William was beginning to realize the correlation of "measurement" to disciplines other than education disciplines including sports!
William knew of Patrick's love of sports and sports statistics. So, William explained "objective measurement" to Patrick in a context that was very understandable - the game of baseball. Baseball is similar to a paper and pencil exam because each at-bat can be compared to an exam "item." Each at-bat (item) is different from any other at-bat (item) because the circumstances change, just slightly to significantly, from at-bat to at-bat, just as each item on an exam is different from others on the same exam.
For example, an easy at-bat (item) scenario is when a player is batting in the eighth inning of a game in which his team is leading 10-0. The pitcher is throwing a no-hitter and has struck out 15 batters. Therefore, there is no pressure to produce.
An example of a difficult at-bat (item) scenario would be if a player is batting in the bottom of the ninth inning with runners on second and third bases; there are two outs and his team is down one run. The batter needs to get a hit for his team to win. Most players would prefer to be in the first scenario because there is no pressure to perform exceptionally well and almost no chance of losing. However, some players would choose to be in the difficult scenario because they long for the situations where they need to produce. These questions result: who excels in those tough situations and just how difficult is it to produce in those situations? These questions have been at the forefront of the mind of each baseball coach since baseball was invented! These are the types of questions that Patrick is eagerly answering through objective measurement.
Patrick's curiosity about how to accurately measure baseball began when he was a young boy. He asked his dad how a batting average was calculated. His dad explained it as the number of hits divided by the number of at-bats. Not quite understanding the concept of calculating averages, Patrick asked another question: "Does hitting a home run count for more in the batting average than hitting just a single?" Patrick's dad said it did not. Now Patrick was more perplexed; he didn't understand how baseball could use a ratio to determine who is the best when the various events that calculate the ratio all have different meanings.
Patrick graduated from Illinois State University in 1985 with a bachelor of science degree in Mass Communications. In 1993, he graduated from The University of Chicago with a masters degree in Education, with a specialization in Measurement, Evaluation and Statistical Analysis. His masters paper is titled "Measuring Sports Performance: The Case of Baseball."
Special thanks to Peter R. Wolfe, MD, at UCLA for his help with providing data for college football and basketball.