I’m one of those baseball nerds you might see at a baseball game — a scorebook in my lap.
Sometimes, I’ll have a beer. More often than not, a hot dog or two as well.
But I keep score.
It’s something I’ve always done. It’s not something that was passed down to me from my father or anything, but it’s something I do. When I go to some pro games with one friend, we’ll often pass the book back and forth and take turns with innings. This allows time for bathroom breaks or to grab a drink or a bite to eat.
It’s a shame I haven’t kept all of those scorecards. Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of great players. Hall of Famers. Minor leaguers who eventually made it to the show. And everyday guys who had their journey end not long after I saw them play.
Those scorecards showed a lot, including a lot of memories. I still have some. I have one or two of the scorebooks I used for the six years I covered professional baseball.
One thing I’ve always been in search of is a smaller scorebook, one I could carry in and out of parks without feeling like I am lugging a briefcase. I’ve seen the old ones reporters used back in the golden age of baseball. They were small and without frills.
I’ve never been able to find a scorebook like that. They were thicker, too. Thick enough to hold at least a season’s worth of games. But I don’t see those much. And for the few people I know who cover professional baseball, they all seem to use the Bob Carpenter book. I used that for a couple of years, too. But, in all honesty, unless you are on a good beat where there are press boxes and tables and such, Carpenter’s book isn’t easy. It’s about 8.5 x 11 inches, so it’s not tiny. And with so many pages, it’s a bit bulky.
But for a baseball nut, it’s heaven.
The scorebook is filled with everything a writer would need. And if you’re an announcer, this book is even better as it really gives you room to work. I love it, personally. But in my post-sports writing life, when I keep score at a park, I want something a bit more simple. I don’t need a lot of bells and whistles, so to speak. I need a scorebook I can carry into parks with me and not have it be too big. I still carry my camera with me, so if I can tuck it into my camera bag or backpack and have it not add a lot of weight? Bonus.
Scorekeeping is a lost art.
Years ago, you’d be able to go to a park on a sunny Saturday afternoon and, without a doubt, you’d be able to find many father’s keeping score with their sons. Or people would do it on their own.
In the six years I covered professional baseball, it was a rarity. There were a few who made every home game for the Single-A team I covered. And they all kept book. I’d say 3-4 of them. It was a way of keeping in touch with the game.
And the team I covered was a no-frills team — so no between-innings shenanigans or anything like that. Just baseball. On a field that had been in places for decades.
This was baseball. Nothing more, nothing less.
Heck, the owner — then in his 80s — used to carry the nightly till out in a lock box. Talk about trust in society!
Scorekeeping is more than just filling in the diamonds to show how many runs were scored. It’s a narrative of the game. The best part? No two scorecards are the same. The beauty of baseball is it allows those who keep score to develop their own way of keeping score, or tweak something from other things they’ve seen.
People mark hits differently. Same with outs. Errors, passed balls, extra-base hits and everything in between can all be marked differently. Some people have systems so complex, only they can decipher them.
For many, keeping score at a game will keep them focused on what’s happening. It also allows people to look at the game in a different way.
A few years ago, while still working at the newspaper, I did a story about those who keep book at games. They all seemed to agree it was a lost art form.
When you go to major league games, your more apt to see more people doing it. There are kid’s scorebooks and cards now, so that often helps getting youngsters involved.
But with so many other activities going on, sometimes it’s hard to keep a kid settled down long enough to be able to keep score.
Still searching for the perfect book
For years, I’ve been looking for that book. The smaller version of a scorebook. Something easier to carry.
I think it finally ended.
A post by a friend on Facebook got me thinking about scorecards as he noted keeping score at a game. So I decided to — as I do a few times every year — look to see if I could find a smaller book.
That brought me to a Kickstarter campaign from two years ago — The Eephus League Baseball Scorebook Revival. This book is small and made for simple scoring. Maybe a little too simple for me, but the size? Perfect!
But the campaign was over. What to do?
I visited the Eephus League website. Sure enough, the books were for sale. My hesitation is the book only holds 20 games. That would last me a couple of years as I don’t do 20 games per year. Still, I was hoping for something a little thicker.
Then something else caught my eye. The Halfliner. This book, designed by the same person — Bethany Heck — was bigger, but not massive sized like many others. It was hard cover and held 81 games!
(See what I did there?)
And the best part? This Halfliner isn’t fully ready. She has a Kickstarter campaign going and it was still active. Even better!
Needless to say, I’m a backer. I can’t wait for this to finish up and to eventually get my Halfliner.
This book is almost everything I’ve ever looked for in a scorebook for fan use. It’s a little bigger than I hoped, but the thickness, the hard binding and pretty much everything else is perfect.
I look forward to getting this one when the campaign is all over. After that, I’ll look forward to hitting up a game (or 10) so I can get back into keeping book at games and knowing I’ll have everything in one place.
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