As a boy, Dr. Joshua Mann was fascinated by numbers, particularly, 1, 51 and 22 - those worn by, respectively, Ozzie Smith, Willie McGee and Jack Clark.
The young Mann was a St. Louis Cardinals fan riveted also by batting averages, home runs, runs batted in - measures of frequency and probability. Performance converted into digits.
Today, he's engrossed by figures from a different sphere, but which offer a similar service: measuring incidence, prevalence and distribution.
But, instead of hits, he studies human health; instead of dingers, it's human disease - the province of epidemiology, and his province as the newly-arrived chair of the reconstituted Department of Preventive Medicine.
"Preventive medicine deals, in large part, with how realities about health can be translated into numbers," said Mann, a UMMC medical school alumnus whose previous position was associate professor of family and preventive medicine at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine.
"It deals with what we can do to improve those realities on both the individual and population levels.
"It asks, 'what do statistics say about reality?' That's what epidemiologists do."
There's another reality facing Mann: reviving a department that has been dormant since 2007, which also means creating a residency program from scratch.