CHICAGO – So far, combining her love of the diamond and numbers has worked out perfectly for former University of Chicago softball standout Maggie O'Hara.
O'Hara, a 2017 graduate with a degree in mathematics and economics, was one of 22 fellows to be selected in Major League Baseball's inaugural Diversity Fellowship Program. Already an intern for the Detroit Tigers' analytics department since last July, O'Hara was able to apply and secure the fellowship to elevate to full-time status within the department.
"Going into my senior year of college, I decided that I wanted to work for a MLB team's analytics department because to me, it's a perfect combination of my passions: baseball/softball and statistics," O'Hara said in an interview by email.
With the mentorship of UChicago alum and current Chicago Cubs Research and Development Analyst Sean Ahmed, O'Hara was able to navigate her path to first her internship, which opened the door to the MLB's Diversity Fellowship program. That program opened to applicants in Fall 2017.
The program is designed to identify talented and diverse professionals and place them in baseball operations departments. The 22 selected have been placed either in the Commissioner's Office or in a team's front office, as O'Hara was with the Tigers, in a fellowship that is slated to last 18 months.
O'Hara's day-to-day in Detroit's analytics department changes depending on the season. For example, as the team prepares for the upcoming MLB Draft, the department creates statistical models to predict the overall values of draft eligible players.
After the draft ends, other projects will be based around the trade deadline, as O'Hara & Co. analyze and value potential draft prospects, followed by off-season acquisitions, arbitration and field advance scouting work.
O'Hara said she's loved the work she's been able to do so far, and while her end career goal isn't perfectly clear, she'd loved to learn more in the areas of scouting. She'd also like to see more women – perhaps someday herself – fill more front office executive roles.
"I'm hopeful that 10-to-20 years down the line we'll have a female (general manager) somewhere and non-male executives around baseball and male sports in general," O'Hara said.
O'Hara, who hails from Barrington, Ill., was a four-year letter winner for the Maroons and finished her career as No. 8 on the career record list for RBI with 65. At third base, she also earned third-team all-region honors as a senior and served as a captain for a UChicago team that reached the NCAA Division III regional in 2017.