Excellent piece in the NY Times by my neighbor Harvey Araton on the lost art of keeping score.
My daughter, Rachel, was manager for her high school baseball team for three seasons, winning the job for her ability to keep score (and take pictures and bake cupcakes). We don’t go to a lot of games, but when we do, she always a scorebook (although she brings her own rather than buy one at the stadium) and refuses to leave early to beat the crowds.
Part of the article considers apps for phones and tablets that will do a nice, neat job, but where’s the art in that? I still have some programs from my first games in 1966 when we would go via my Prospect Park Jewish Center day camp. When I was a child, I kept score like a child, full of abbreviations like “PO” for pop-up, “GO” for ground out, “FO” for fly out, with no other notation as to the details of the actual play (now I can go back, via websites like Retrosheet.org or baseball-reference.com and see what really happened). Compare that with the super-detailed computer work I did as a free-lancer for STATS, one of the companies that supplies data to the media and teams. Now that was pressure; didn’t even have time to go to the bathroom.
Books about scorekeeping include:
- The Joy of Keeping Score: How Scoring the Game Has Influenced and Enhanced the History of Baseball, by Paul Dickson
- Baseball Scorekeeping: A Practical Guide to the Rules, by Andres Wirkmaa
- What’s The Score: Baseball Scorekeeping in 10 Easy Chapters, by S.L. Schell
- Batter Up! The Ultimate Baseball Scorekeeper, by Benjamin Eli Smith
A caveat: While I have read and enjoyed the first two titles, I have no personal knowledge of the others. I once read somewhere that men think they can do three things better than anyone else and one of those was keeping score (the other two vary according to source). It’s a personal thing with many styles, some of which are dictated by the type of scorebook used. My book of choice includes spaces for keeping the count. I imagine they get more and more sophisticated to accommodate for the new era of statistics.