(Photography by John Zich)

Pitching in

Meet Cubs pitcher and College second-year Wilson Cunningham.

On July 13, 2021, two things changed Wilson Cunningham’s life forever: he toured the UChicago campus, and he was drafted by the Chicago Cubs. Thanks to an unusual agreement with the Cubs, the left-handed pitcher—now a College second-year—is able to pursue a full-time undergraduate education and play professional baseball at the same time. (Read more at “Ballpark Figure.”)

Though it meant giving up his original plan to join UChicago’s team—Cunningham had signed a letter of intent with the Maroons in 2020—he was thrilled by the opportunity to have “the best of both worlds,” he told UChicago News. During the academic year, Cunningham practices on campus, following a plan devised by Cubs training staff that he calls “quantitative and regimented”—a fitting approach for the computational and applied mathematics major. In the summer he heads to Arizona to play for the organization’s Rookie-level team, the lowest rung of the minor leagues. (This year an injury shortened his season, though he did get to pitch his first inning as a professional.)

The two worlds are less different than you’d think, he told the Chicago Tribune: “Just fewer conversations about Aristotle and more about Jacob deGrom.”