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Keeping score is not a lost art with baseball fans



Published: Mon, July 2, 2007 @ 12:00 a.m.

Fans young and old, male and female, still are keeping score at every game.

MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL STAR TRIBUNE

The senior gentleman sits in the same seat for every Minnesota Twins home game, just off the left-field foul pole, arriving 90 minutes before first pitch with his score book attached to a clipboard.

The young woman has a 20-game season-ticket package, and when she’s in the Metrodome, she often sits right at the senior gentleman’s side, her own scorebook in hand.

Six years ago, score books drew them together. Jen Davis had a scorekeeping question, and who better to ask than this fellow who arrived with homemade cookies and pockets full of bubble gum to share with neighboring fans?

That’s how Davis, 25, and Dale Piepho, 70, became friends.

In an age when stadium Jumbotrons are filled with updated statistics, and with pitch-by-pitch accounts of each game are available on the Internet, keeping score might seem like a lost art.

But that’s certainly not the case for the fans — young and old, male and female — still doing it at every game.

Their reasons

Some do it to keep focused, some to have their own handwritten history of the events.

Keeping score “just takes my understanding and appreciation for the game to a whole new level,” Davis said. “I find that when I’m without my scorebook [very rare], I don’t have the same sense of what’s happening on the field.”

Earlier this season, Darla Samson, 55, was keeping score at a Twins game, even though she had a cast on her writing hand.

As a player might say, she was playing hurt.

Samson said she scores every Twins game. If she’s not at the Dome, she’s recording it as she watches TV or listens on the radio. If she misses the game, she checks play-by-play on the Internet. “I look over it again when I get home, and again in the morning,” she said. “It gives me something to talk to people about.”

The oldest known baseball scorecard dates to 1845. Nobody is sure who filled it out, but it’s on display at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Scorekeeping innovator

Henry Chadwick is considered the father of modern scorekeeping. In the 1860s, he published the first system to be adopted by organized baseball, according to Paul Dickson’s book, “The Joy of Keeping Score.”

Chadwick, a baseball editor for the New York Herald, assigned numbers to every position on the field. The pitcher is No. 1, catcher 2, first baseman 3, second baseman 4, third baseman 5, shortstop 6, left fielder 7, center fielder 8, right fielder 9.

So, for example, when a double play goes shortstop to second to first, the standard notation is 6-4-3. A fly to center field is an F-8. A liner to third is L-5.

Chadwick also gave us K for strikeout, determining K was the most prominent letter and sound in the word “strike.”

But scorecards aren’t all uniform. There is no official way to record every play. It’s actually a very personal thing.

Some, such as Twins GM Terry Ryan, like to use a backwards K for a called third strike. Others, such as longtime Twins official scorer Tom Mee, note that same result as “Kc.” Either way, they need only glance at their scorecard to remember the moment.

“It’s one of the few ways that fans become part of the game,” Dickson said. “If you’re keeping score, you’re king of the row. People check back to see what happened.”

Wireless internet

These days, the San Francisco Giants offer wireless Internet for their fans at AT&T Park, and some have shown up to score games on their laptops. Those with the right software program can have the lineups beamed to their handheld devices each day, and they can keep score right on those same devices.


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