Math is Everywhere

A story of a visit to a ballpark

Recently I had the privilege of taking my daughter to see the San Francisco Giants play baseball.  It was a beautiful day in San Francisco and she’d been begging me for months to go to a game.


We got seats in right field because she is a huge Hunter Pence Fan and it happened to be Hunter Pence Bobble Body Day!



While sitting and enjoying the game a vendor started walking through the crowd selling 50/50 raffle tickets.  I was intrigued by the sign and thought, “I’m going to take a picture of that sign. There’s math in there somewhere.”



Before you start thinking,” What a math nerd!”  I wasn’t sitting there solving complicated equations or making up some new math lesson.  I simply thought,” There’s some math there and I’ll think about it later.”  However, if I hadn’t taken the picture I probably would have lost any thought of the moment.


I was curious how big the Jackpot was going to get at a ballpark that holds close to 45,000 people.

It turns out that they post the current jackpot throughout the game on the scoreboard.

WAIT A MINUTE!  THAT DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE!  As I was driving home from the game it dawned on me, “Tickets were sold in 5 and 10 dollar increments.  How in the world did they get a 4 or a 9 in the ones place of the jackpot?”  And that is where the math nerd in me took over.

Question 1: What could have happened that caused the jackpot to have a 4 or 9 in the ones place?

I wonder, how often do we as teachers ask questions that we don’t know the answer to? How often do we ask questions just to get students talking?  As teachers sometimes the best way to get students communicating ideas is to ask them these types of questions.

The Story Continues:

When I got home from the game I was curious what the final jackpot was so I decided to go online and see if they posted it.  It turns out they do.


The jackpot that day was: $33,128.  “NOW THERE’S AN 8 IN THE ONES PLACE!”  I figured I must be missing something.  After digging a little more into the website I found my missing information:

50/50 Raffle Tickets will be sold from the time the ballpark gates open until the last out of the sixth inning. Tickets are sold at 1 for $3, 3 for $5, 10 for $10, 40 for $20 and 120 for $40. One winning ticket will be selected for each game. The winner will win 50% of the proceeds collected that game through the sale of raffle tickets. The remaining proceeds will be donated to the Giants Community Fund. The winning ticket will be announced by the 8th inning and posted at the 50/50 Raffle kiosk on the Promenade Level.

 As you can see they don’t advertise the 1 ticket for $3 on their sign.  “But,” I thought, “does that really fix the issue with the numbers in the ones place?”

Question 2Using only the numbers 0, 3, and 5, can you produce (by adding) all the numbers 0-9 in the ones place of a number?

I wonder how often do we as teachers ask students questions that may or may not be able to be accomplished.  I didn’t know if this would work or not. But asking these questions allow students to explore strategies and look for structure in numbers? 

Seeing this missing information made my mathematical brain fill with wonder.

Question 3: What is the price per ticket at each level?

1 for $3         3 for $5         10 for $10        40 for $20                   120 for $40

Notice I did not ask what is the best value?  The answer to that question is what I would want students to “discover.”  Figuring out best value is “real world math”.  I want them to discover that there is a best value.

Question 4: If you were going to buy 120 tickets, how much would it cost to buy the tickets:

1 at a time, 3 at a time, 10 at a time, 40 at a time, or          120 at time.

This question is just a warm up for what I really want the students to answer in question 5 and 6.


Question 5:  When Thomas went to the game he was planning on purchasing 80 tickets.  When he saw the sign the seller was holding, he thought, “What should I do?”

Help Thomas decide what to do.  How much will your plan cost Thomas?



The purpose of this question is to see if the students can first figure out a way to get 80 tickets, and second, to see if they are yet thinking of the cheapest way to accomplish their goal.  Ultimately, in this question, I want students to be able to show me how they arrived at their suggestion for purchasing 80 tickets.  Some students might say buying 120 tickets would cost the same as buying 80, which would be an awesome discussion in class.

Question 6: What would you recommend that Thomas do if he wanted to buy at least 225 tickets?

In this last question, I am again hoping that students will think about the cheapest way to get 225 tickets.  However, their support of the suggestion they give is more important.  As students come up with different plans and defend their suggestion, the teacher can guide the conversation to a comparison of price.

After writing all this, I can see what a MATH GEEK I truly am, but what’s the point of this whole story?


I had an eye open for an opportunity to find math in the real world.  How often do we as adults walk through this world and miss opportunities that would help answer the question, “Where will I ever use this?”

Keep an open eye and have your camera ready.  Don’t miss another “Math Moment” because:



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