The joy of scoring

You’ve probably noticed that almost every game summary I’ve posted includes a link to an image of the scorecard I kept during the game. I include those for readers who might be interested to know the details that I may gloss over in my attempt to focus on some of the more “big picture” aspects of the trip. However, I realize some readers might not be that well-versed in baseball, and would find my cards as comprehensible as a technical paper on quantum chromodynamics in Greek (apologies to any Greek-speaking quantum physicists who may have found this page).

Keeping score at a baseball game is fun and addictive, and as I have found in the eight years since I started, it has two effects on the scorekeeper. First, it helps the viewer better be able to see and track the game’s patterns, such as whether a batter is a single away from the cycle or if a pitcher can’t keep the leadoff man off base. Second, it really does make the game stand out better in memory.

So, I am including a quick primer. Please note that this is only an introduction, the game is so subtle and nuanced that any exhaustive description of the intricacies would approach the length of War and Peace, and that the best way to really get a feel for the game and how to keep score is to go to baseball games and keep score.

Each box in the scorecard can be used to track the result of each at-bat: how a batter is retired, or how he reached base, and track his progress around the bases. For a batter who reaches base, fill in the outlines of the basepaths to show how far he got–a completed diamond indicates a run has scored. The table to the right shows a number of common symbols for how a batter can reach base and several possible means of advancing on the basepaths.

When a batter is put out, an alphanumeric code is used, with the following numbers used to denote the defensive position:

1-Pitcher | 2-Catcher | 3-First Baseman 
4-Second Baseman | 5-Third Baseman | 6-Shortstop 
7-Leftfielder | 8-Centerfielder | 9-Rightfielder

A groundout begins with the number of the first defensive player to touch the ball, followed by the sequence of any other players he throws it to. For example, a groundout to the third baseman would be scored “5-3” (the third baseman fields the ball and throws to the first baseman). Any ball caught on the fly begins with a letter, followed by the number of the defender who caught the ball. Popups or Flyouts begin with a “P”, Line drives begin with an “L” and Foulouts begin with an “F”. For example, a line drive caught by the leftfielder would be scored “L7”

In the sample to the left, the leadoff batter fouled out to the shortstop, the next batter followed that with a single, and then scored on the home run by the third baseman. The 2 in the circle notes that the batter is credited with 2 runs batted in (RBI). The DH  drew a walk and then went to second on the single by the left fielder. He was then picked off on a throw from the catcher to first (2-3). The following batter struck out swinging to end the inning. The next inning began with a single from the 7-hole batter, who was then erased when the catcher grounded into a double play. The inning ended when the second baseman took a called third strike.

Of course, this is only one method, and many fans who take up scorekeeping find special nuances in the game that require more specialized symbols. The most important thing to keep in mind while keeping score: have fun and enjoy the game!

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