Major League Baseball Players' Life Expectancies

Authors


  • *Direct correspondence to Jarron M. Saint Onge, Department of Sociology, 450 Philip Hoffman Hall, University of Houston, Houston, TX 77204-3012 〈e-mail: jmsaintonge@uh.edu〉. We will share all coding information with investigators who satisfy the requirements of and purchase the data from Sport Media Enterprises. An early version of this article benefited from presentation at the 2006 Annual Meeting of the Southern Demographic Association and the 2007 Annual Meeting of the Population Association of America. We thank Sport Media Enterprises for supplying the data; the Department of Sociology, University of Colorado, for purchasing the data license; Nancy Mann for editorial assistance; the University of Colorado Population Center (Grant R21 HD51146) and the University of Texas Population Research Center (Grant R24 HD42849) for administrative and computing support; and the reviewers for their insightful and helpful comments.

Abstract

Objective. We examine the importance of anthropometric and performance measures, and age, period, and cohort effects in explaining life expectancies among major league baseball (MLB) players over the past century.

Methods. We use discrete time hazard models to calculate life tables with covariates with data from Total Baseball, a rich source of information on all players who played in the major league.

Results. Compared to 20-year-old U.S. males, MLB players can expect almost five additional years of life. Height, weight, handedness, and player ratings are unassociated with the risk of death in this population of highly active and successful adults. Career length is inversely associated with the risk of death, likely because those who play longer gain additional incomes, physical fitness, and training.

Conclusions. Our results indicate improvements in life expectancies with time for all age groups and indicate possible improvements in longevity in the general U.S. population.

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