A Tribute to Lawrence Hadley

Posted on June 12, 2007 by

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Last Friday the sports economics community lost one of its founding fathers. Lawrence Hadley, a professor of economics at the University of Dayton, passed away. Larry’s research on sports and economics focused almost exclusively on baseball, where he examined topics that fall under the umbrellas of competitive balance and labor economics. Larry’s contribution to sports economics, though, goes well beyond his published work. Beginning in 1996, Larry organized a number of sessions at the Western Economic Association meetings focused on sports and economics. And it is these meetings that did so much to advance our growing field.

To illustrate this point, virtually every story told in The Wages of Wins began as a paper presented in one of Larry’s sessions. The book itself would not have been possible had I not met Martha Cooley of Stanford Press at the WEA in 2004. In sum, it is difficult to measure how much the authors of WoW owe to Larry.

This past weekend a number of us have been sharing memories of Larry. I have asked (and received) permission to post three of these comments, which I think capture the contribution Larry has made to our field.

Dan Marburger, Arkansas State University
Let me first to acknowledge Larry’s contribution to the field of sports economics. I still remember the first session he and Elizabeth organized at the WEA in San Diego back in 1996. There were only a small handful of us presenting papers at the time. Since then, the sports econ sessions at the Westerns have ballooned to a dozen or so sessions, we have a sports economics journal, two textbooks, and an international scholarly association. I question if any of those would have come to fruition without Larry’s efforts to promote the economics of sports.

Tony Krautmann, DePaul University
I remember sitting out in the parking lot at the WEA in 1996 and talking with Larry about the Minor Leagues and training expenses. It turned into a paper. At the next WEA, I was talking to him (and John Fizel) about players’ decisions to go to arbitration. It turned into a paper. Again the next year at the WEA (with Elizabeth). It turned into a paper. This repeated itself three more times. I guess it’s obvious that the common factor in all these cases was Larry. Talk with him a few minutes and soon you were itching to get back to your office to begin writing the next paper. This kind of collaborative stimulation is a scarce skill. I think the whole field will feel the loss of Larry. I will miss Larry very much – both as a friend and a colleague.

Dan Rascher, University of San Francisco
I first met Larry at the 1996 meetings as a graduate student unsure about whether I wanted to pursue sports economics as my major field (the usual worrying about its acceptance by economists). After I watched one set of presentations, Larry came and sat next to me and encouraged me to pursue the research that I cared about the most and worry less about the consequences. I took that to heart and have always only been a sports economist. I have frequently looked back to that moment as a very important one in my life and Larry’s wisdom helped me tremendously. I will certainly miss him and his insightful research and guidance.

I more than echo these sentiments. Larry had a huge impact on my research and development as an economist. And I will certainly miss him as both a mentor and friend.

– Dave Berri

Posted in: Sports Econ