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A couple of words on keeping score at the ballgame

Feb 21, 2011, 5:09 PM EDT


I’m probably the worst scorekeeper in the world. I try to do it from time to time — used to do it a lot more — but I just don’t bother much anymore. Maybe it’s because I don’t do attention to detail very well. Maybe I’m just lazy. Maybe I just go to relatively few baseball games for a man with my job and when I’m there I just prefer to soak it in.  I don’t know. I told this story last spring during my spring training trip to Florida, but I’ll tell it again because it’s good:

I was in the Red Sox press box in Fort Myers during a game against the Rays.  I’m sitting next to Boston radio fixture Jonny Miller.  Miller and I are actually hitting it off pretty good.  He’s telling me war stories. He knows I’m a newbie so he’s giving me pointers about life in the box.  Nice afternoon!

Now, Miller keeps meticulous score during the game. He doesn’t miss a play. Around the bottom of the third inning the Red Sox PR guy comes by and tells Miller that that day’s pitcher, Jon Lester, is available for interviews. Miller turns to me and says — doesn’t really ask, just says — “you make sure to keep score for me while I’m gone.”  I hadn’t been keeping score, but I nodded and said I would.

I start in, utilizing my sloppy, inconsistent system, in smeary pen on the paper score sheet they hand out in the press room.  Miller is gone a long time. Two thirds of the Red Sox half of the third and the entire Rays half of the fourth, during which they sent ten guys to the plate. My score sheet is a complete disaster at this point and there’s no way Miller’s going to be able to follow it.  I can read it, however, so I figure that I’ll just read it back to him when he returns.

Miller comes back and says “hand me your score sheet.”  I tell him it’s hard to read. He either doesn’t hear this or doesn’t care and just repeats “hand me your score sheet.”  I give it to him and nod my head in shame. He starts writing, then stops. Then he just kind of looks at me with an expression that seems to say “kid, you got problems.” He hands it back to me and says, wearily, “just tell me who got the RBIs.”  I only knew this guy for about three hours at this point, but I felt like I was disappointing my father or something.

In light of that painful memory, I was really happy to see this Kickstarter fundraiser for an elegant and simplified little score book that some folks are trying to get off the ground.  This isn’t a paid ad or anything — and I don’t know the people making it — but it was brought to my attention this afternoon, I watched the little video and read the rundown and I rather like it.  Maybe hardcore guys and the Jonny Millers of the world would make fun of me if I had one, but I think I’d enjoy keeping score with it. It’s simple and small and I don’t care.  Check it out. I think more people would keep score if it were available.  And don’t be bothered by the fact that the narrator of the video has a voice that sounds EXACTLY like a girl I dated back in West Virginia when I was in the 11th grade because, nope, that didn’t bother me one bit, no sir!

And if the simplified scorebook is not your speed — if you’re a pro — here’s a fun blog post from Mike Curto, who announces Tacoma Rainers games, holding forth on his scorebook of choice.  It’s serious business.  Maybe I’d get into that one day. When I grow up.

  1. jkcalhoun - Feb 21, 2011 at 5:15 PM

    After 40 years with paper and pencil I’m making the transition to electronic scorekeeping this year. Yes, Mr El Bravo, on my iPad.

    • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Feb 21, 2011 at 5:32 PM

      See post below….and…nerd. These snarkberries taste like snarkberries.

  2. klbader - Feb 21, 2011 at 5:16 PM

    Someone should make an iPhone/Droid/BBerry app that you can use to keep score with. You can do the scorecard while you are watching the game and then maybe upload it to your computer or share if with friends over social media. I am not tech savvy, otherwise I would create the app myself.

    • phillysoulfan - Feb 22, 2011 at 4:35 PM

      Someone does

      I’ve been using this for years. Ever since they were programming it for the Palm.

  3. Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Feb 21, 2011 at 5:20 PM

    I bet a lot more people would keep score if it wasn’t kept for us at the games. Snarkitty snark, snarkberries.

    • jkcalhoun - Feb 21, 2011 at 5:48 PM

      Yes, and in fact I don’t keep score of professional games anymore, even when I’m at home, for exactly the reason you mention. Lots of online options now that are more than sufficient for the purpose if you want play-by-play or even pitch-by-pitch information.

      But I moonlight as an official scorekeeper for an amateur league, and when I do that I’m the guy keeping the official book.

      So I score that comment an E9.

  4. okobojicat - Feb 21, 2011 at 5:26 PM

    Interesting that you write this up today. The Tacoma Rainiers blogger (M’s AAA) has a post up just 20 min ago about his scoresheet. Mike is a great radio guy and a pretty fun blogger. Here’s his post:

    • Craig Calcaterra - Feb 21, 2011 at 5:27 PM

      Already had it linked at the end there, O-cat.

      • okobojicat - Feb 21, 2011 at 5:28 PM

        If you’d just give me 30 seconds, I’d call myself an idiot for you. JEEEZ

    • okobojicat - Feb 21, 2011 at 5:27 PM

      Well, I’m an idiot. I apparently skipped your last paragraph….hmmm.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Feb 21, 2011 at 5:29 PM

      Sorry. I’m always trying to help! 😉

  5. pauleee - Feb 21, 2011 at 5:50 PM

    Wow, I haven’t kept score in many years. Not too long ago I came across the scoresheet to a game I went to in 1988 at Wrigley (Greatest.Vacation.Evar.) I remembered that Dawson and Dunsten homered in the win against San Diego, but got a surprise when I checked who pitched that day. Some no-name called Maddux.

  6. Brian Murphy - Feb 21, 2011 at 6:22 PM

    If I go to a game and don’t document “every ball, strike and breath taken on the field,” I honestly feel lost. I love getting a new book every couple of years.

    In the past 10 years, the number of games I attended and didn’t score is well below 10. One of those turned out to be a combined no-hitter. It was college baseball, but that still irks me.

  7. hermitfool - Feb 21, 2011 at 7:01 PM

    Hard to keep score at a Ranger’s home game. All the sheep around you stand up every danged time the electronic scoreboard gives the order. Sometimes they stand for an entire half inning if instructed to do so. Cliff Lee had a point.

  8. Utley's Hair - Feb 21, 2011 at 7:41 PM

    Craig, how successful a lawyer can you be if you have a hard time paying attention to detail? Is that why you gave it up?

  9. PanchoHerreraFanClub - Feb 21, 2011 at 8:37 PM

    This may sound silly, but wouldn’t this Eephus scoreboard make a great iPad/Android app.

  10. pbannard - Feb 21, 2011 at 8:54 PM

    There’s an app out called GameChanger ( – it’s marketed more for the Little League to HS level, but I don’t see any reason it couldn’t be used for Major League games as well. It’s simple and intuitive while also being very detailed. Worth checking out, especially if the main place you’re keeping score is your kid’s game.

  11. marshallnbrown - Feb 22, 2011 at 3:13 AM

    I can’t remember when I learned to “keep book” at a game (I was 10 when the Giants came to SF.), but I soon realized it was a lot cheaper when I was too busy to eat and drink my way thru’ a game.

  12. hasbeen5 - Feb 22, 2011 at 9:14 AM

    Craig, was it the voice that irked you, or the fact that the first name penciled into the lineup in the video was McClouth?

  13. baseballscores - Feb 25, 2011 at 8:19 PM

    I’ve taught my 11 and 12 year kids to keep score with the How to score baseball ebook. It’s an awesome tutorial that covers almost all baseball situations. I think the phone apps are cool, but it’s important that our understand the art of baseball scorekeeping.

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