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The Cubs outlook balances rigorous UChicago College education with baseball training

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But this proposal was not a promise from the Cubs. During the draft, the team could change plans immediately, and there was always the possibility that another team would plunge in front of the Cubs and draft Cunningham.

Cunningham’s heart shook violently as the draft continued through the third and final day of July 13, 2021. Finally, choosing numbers 612 to 604 in the 20th and final rounds, the Cubs made their choice and were called Cunningham.

“We see the deal with Wilson Cunningham as a long-term investment for the team, but for the whole person,” said Jed Hoyer, head of baseball at the Cubs. increase. “We aim to communicate and collaborate with players throughout the organization to help them grow out of the field and grow in the field.

“It was clear that attending the University of Chicago to promote his education was of paramount importance to Wilson and his family. We worked with them to help Wilson achieve his goals in the classroom. At the same time, I was happy to create a deal that would allow him to start his dream of pursuing Major League Baseball. “


A year later

Cunningham’s first year at the University of Chicago was a whirlwind. A typical weekday consisted of morning training at the Henry Crown Fieldhouse, an afternoon class, and an intense slow session shortly after the class.

In a typical pitching session during the school year, he starts with a meticulous warm-up routine and then uses resistance bands and weight balls to strengthen his arms. From there, he follows the individual pitching instructions of the Cubs training staff and sticks to plans classified as “quantitative and controlled.” This large and detailed training program includes additional daily arm care.


Cunningham said training alone was challenging, especially when the winter weather in Chicago forced him to exercise indoors for most of the school year. And unlike the vast majority of professional baseball players, he also faces the pressure of navigating courses in physics and calculus.

“Obviously it was difficult, but that’s what I knew to get into this, and that’s what I wanted,” Cunningham said. “No matter how hard it may be in the short term, we tend to pursue something that is rewarding in the long term.”

Now that the school year is over, he reports to the Arizona Complex League Cubs in the minor league. There he faces a professional batter for the first time. The Cubs provided Cunningham with the resources to prepare for the spiritual side of pitching, but he also enjoys training with his fellow minor leaguers.

“There is something in the field with the team that is essential to being the best pitcher,” he said.

Cunningham will earn a bachelor’s degree in 2025 and then pursue a baseball career as much as possible. In the future, he also wants to take advantage of his UChicago degree. Perhaps through a career in the financial industry or education at the university level.

So far, he has been with UChicago for three years and continues to focus on the unique opportunities at hand.

“I’m walking down the hallway and I hear two friends discussing Aristotle, which is very unique to come across on a college campus,” he said. “UChicago has really supported the reputation of being a place where there are smart students who bring everything different to the table. It was a cool and entertaining experience.”

— This story was also posted on the University of Chicago website.