Welcome to Scorekeeping Week

Sometimes people ask us why baseball is our favorite sport. There’s no one good answer but it’s easy to come up with reasons it appeals to the obsessives, the nostalgics, the fastidious among us. Scorekeeping is just one of the symptoms, in that it is more than just keeping score, it is an institution. The language of scorekeeping, the history and the symbolism, speak to our collective desire to log the proceedings, to set the course of events down on paper.

Buried in the subconscious of the every amateur scorekeeper is the fantasy that someday, years into the future, a researcher will stumble across that mustard-stained scorecard from a Sunday afternoon in Arlington, and use it to construct the final, Rosebud-like paragraph of said scorekeeper’s biography.

The point is, this Scorekeeping Week at Pitchers & Poets. We felt like the act of scorekeeping was both personal enough and broad enough to justify an entire week of posts, from a range of perspectives, from the graphic designer to the professional broadcaster, and all of the fans in between.

This is also the first time we have ever laid claim to a week, labeled it, and singled it out for any official purpose. Seeing as scorekeeping is a universal activity, we hope that you ponder it along with us on your own blog, or better yet in our comments section.

In the next few days you can look forward to interviews with scorebook visionary Bethany Heck and with Seattle Mariners TV broadcaster Dave Sims, as well as reflections from friends of the site, all on the topic of scorekeeping.

3 Responses to “Welcome to Scorekeeping Week”

  • I’m looking forward to this. I’ve scored most major league games I’ve attended, and taught my daughter to score games as soon as she was old enough. She still takes the scorebook her stepmother made for her to many games; when she doesn’t I do.

    Among my fondest memories as a child are those of my mother taking a large peice of butcher paper and making scorecards large enough for me to score the All-Star game, with all its substitutions.

    This should be fun.

  • Just in response to the “do you score; if so, how?”

    Yes. Generally I go for the diamond technique but don’t shade in runs. There were phases when I tried to do balls and strikes by drawing a little diagram (essentially something like


    without the letters actually there), but moving my pencil from left to right (and up and down as needed) to trace out how the count went. Also there were times when I tried just leaving the pencil between my LH middle and first fingers and moving them to track the count to myself but that requires sort of awkward contortions so I gave that up too. I scribble down random marginalia, and sometimes use arrows between batters’ boxes to indicate something like “this baserunner made the last out of the inning on the bases so I can’t really put this batter down as out or safe on a fielder’s choice or anything.”

    I also try to buy individual scorecards, when possible, not more expensive magazine things. For a while the Twins had an independent scorecard seller outside the stadium which, not only was better than the official one, but coerced the Twins into selling individual scorecards which was good. They got driven out of the market though. I’m still bitter.

  • When I was a child I spake as a child: I started keeping score in 1966 and still have the program filled with a nine-year-old’s innocent scrawls: FO for fly out, GB for ground ball, etc., very low-tech.

    But when I became a man… I worked part-time for STATS Inc., well that was a whole ‘nother kettle of fish.

    I can picture the scorecard of the future with new categories for a more detailed experience, with advanced technologies to allow for built in calculators to figure out sabermetic stats. Perhaps it will feature a mechanism to update the players’ numbers in real time, kind of like “The Daily Prophet” in the Harry Potter series.

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