Let’s admit it, how many of us go to a ball game and pay attention to every pitch? There are so many distractions these days, between your kielbasa and beer, the extreme graphics on seemingly acre sized HD scoreboards, checking our email and Facebook, or even just hanging out with friends. Yours truly is included with this group. For that reason, 99% of baseball fans would probably make lousy scorekeepers.
I was watching the Cubs-Cardinals game Saturday on FOX and the announcers were giving Harold Baines grief because he stopped keeping score after just one inning. And this is someone who is paid to pay attention to what’s going on in the field. My favorite scrorekeeping story was told by Joe Garagiola during an NBC game once in the 70s. He was broadcasting a Yankees game with former pinstriper Phil “Scooter” Rizzuto in 1964. At some point, Garagiola looked down at Rizzuto’s scorecard and saw the notation “WW”. When asked what that was, Rizzuto replied “wasn’t watching.” I remember hearing this story as a kid when Garagiola told it during a game, and I was able to confirm it via email with his son, Joe Garagiola, Jr., who is currently a Sr. VP with Major League Baseball.
This day in age you won’t find many fans filling out their scorecards. Especially with all the electronics available today, including the MLB app and other apps available for scoring a game. The current format for scoring dates back to sportswriter Henry Chadwick in the 1860s. While the general format has remained relatively unchanged, scorekeeping is very personal and can take on various formats. The image above is the scoring of Babe Ruth’s infamous called home run in the World Series against the Cubs. And here are a few other examples. And keep in mind, with the exception of Tim McCarver’s card below, none were with video and instant replay!
MLB’s first perfect game in 1880:
And well renown writer Roger Angell still kept this pretty mean scorecard at age 91 in 2011:
Prior to today, I have tried to keep score during a game only a handful of times, and I am pretty sure I’ve never scored an entire game. The closest I came was probably when I was in middle school watching an NBC Game of the Week and I think I made it through 5 innings. So I thought I would give it a shot. I had to do some brushing up on some of the best notating practices, and downloaded a scorecard. Now, I admit, I had a few advantages over Rizzuto. First, I had the benefit of instant replay (which did come in handy on one play at second base). Also, I decided to watch a replay of a game played yesterday, thinking if I really missed something, I could pause and rewind. Although I didn’t have to take advantage of this technology, I WAS afforded the opportunity to pause the game to make lunch! 🙂
Even with these added benefits, I found it took great concentration to follow and track every pitch of the game. In this game there were 258 pitches. While I was worried that making all the detailed notes of the game would distract me enough that I wouldn’t enjoy the game, that was the furthest thing from the truth. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
So, how did I do? Pretty good I think. After entering all of my totals, other than a simple addition mistake, my scorecard and totals matched the final box score, with the only exception being I was off on 1 pitch on the total pitch count. Not bad. The game certainly wasn’t a classic, just a mid season meeting between the Rays and the Red Sox, and it was your run of the mill 4-1 win for the Rays. While I doubt that my scorecards will make it into Cooperstown, I’m hanging on to them for a while. My next endeavor might be to score a game while listening to a radio broadcast. I do love a challenge!