User:Dakern74/Baseball scorekeeping orig

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Baseball scorekeeping (or keeping score) is a shorthand method for recording the details of a baseball game. Using a series of numbers and abbreviations, the events can be reconstructed long after the game has ended (even years later), and the process also allows for the easy compilation of various baseball statistics. In addition to the official scorer who is responsible for recording the game on behalf of the league, many fans find that keeping score adds to their enjoyment of the game and provides its own souvenir afterwards.

Most of the basic scorekeeping conventions were devised by Henry Chadwick in the 1860s and 1870s. Chadwick's biggest contribution was the numbering of players (see below), and he also established abbreviations for many of the common plays. These basics are generally accepted by all scorekeepers and are still used today.

However, there is no single "right way" to keep score. People record various degrees of detail about each batter and play; others have different ways of tracking a player's progress around the bases; and many experienced scorekeepers have devised their own marks and abbreviations to track items of personal interest. One saying is that, if you (the scorekeeper) can decipher it later, then it's right. With the same basic foundations in place, most any other scorekeeper will be able to do the same.

The "lost art"[edit]

With the advent of the computer age, several software programs have been developed for professional use that allow very quick, error-free tabulation of game and season statistics. An official scorer in the press box enters each play (often each pitch) into the computer, which within seconds, can update all the relevant statistics for each team, batter, and pitcher. While this has allowed for the popular "in-game box scores" and game logs on the Internet and television, it may contribute to less people following the game closely by keeping score on their own (since everything they want to know is now instantly available).

At any live game, you can still look around and see a small number of people keeping score. Many are doing it as a souvenir of the game, and as a neat way to record the players they saw in person (especially in the minor leagues, in case they become stars later). Sometimes it is also just fun to know, late in the game, what a batter has done earlier in the game. This last purpose, however, is also becoming less common thanks to larger, more elaborate stadium scoreboards that show every tiny detail, including each batter's prior appearances in the same game.

Scorekeeping is occasionally talked about on TV as being a "lost art" because fewer people in the stands seem to be doing it, or know how. However, if you are interested, it is a fun and different way to feel involved in the game instead of simply watching it. If you have questions or miss something, it never hurts to ask. Anyone with a scorecard is usually more than willing to help anyone else with a scorecard.

The scorecard itself[edit]

Obviously, a major part of recording any baseball game is having something to record it on.

Scorebooks, bound together and containing one blank page for each game, are sold at most sporting-goods stores; the number of pages varies. Aside from modern-day computers, this is the most common method used by official scorers for professional teams. Many books are also purchased by schools, amateur and community teams, Little League teams, or just by regular fans who want to score games that they attend.

Most professional teams' game programs contain blank pages dedicated to keeping score, and most of those include a basic "how-to" page for those who may be new to scoring. Some teams also sell the scorecard separately from (and at a lesser price than) the complete program; this allows regular fans of the same team to keep score for each game without having to buy the entire program again every time.

Some scorekeepers and scouts devise their own scorecards, either based on individual preferences, or for the specific statistic(s) they want to track. Some die-hards have been known to abandon the pre-printed forms and simply use lined notebook paper.

The basic setup of the scorecard is in a matrix or grid format, with the batters listed down the left side, and the innings listed across the top. Each team gets its own separate listing, so there are usually two identical pages needed. In the spiral-bound books, and in teams' pre-printed programs, scorekeepers usually use two facing pages so the book can simply be flipped over when the teams change sides. Occasionally scorecards will have both teams on the same page (top half and bottom half), although this can leave considerably less room to write. Also located on each page is a block for pitching statistics.

Each offensive play will ultimately be recorded in the square that is the intersection of the batter's name and the inning he bats in. Before the game, the batting order is anounced, and the players' names, uniform numbers, and positions written down the side of that team's page. Depending on the setup of the scorecard, many other game preliminaries (the date, site, umpires' names, etc., can also be filled in before the game actually begins.

Numbering the players[edit]

The defensive position of each player is indicated by a number, as devised by Henry Chadwick. These numbers will be used to record the player(s) who handle the ball when an out is made. In the initial listing of players' names and positions, it is an individual preference whether to use the numbers, or the traditional letter abbreviations.

(See also: baseball positions)

Baseball text.png
Number Abbreviation Position
1 P Pitcher
2 C Catcher
3 1B First Baseman
4 2B Second Baseman
5 3B Third Baseman
6 SS Shortstop
7 LF Left Fielder
8 CF Center Fielder
9 RF Right Fielder

Note: In softball, the rover or shortfielder is assigned position number 10. Many dual-sport scorebooks show this on diagrams of the field.

The designated hitter, if used, is only abbreviated as "DH", and does not receive a defensive number. There are two simple reasons for this: first, the DH does not play in the field and will never be involved in any putouts; secondly, the concept of a DH did not exist until 1973, long after Chadwick died, and thus much too late to be part of his system.

When the DH is used, and the pitcher does not bat, it is another individual preference whether to include the pitcher on the offensive section of the scorecard. This can depend on the setup of the card; if there are "total" columns for defensive statistics (putouts, assists, and/or errors), it may be desirable since the pitcher could be involved in those plays. If there are only offensive statistics (at bats, runs, hits, RBI), the pitcher could be omitted.

Scoring the game[edit]

Each play is recorded in the square to the right of the batter's name, and below the inning in which it takes place.

Score diamond.jpg

Diamond shapes, representing the baseball diamond, are used to track a batter-runner's progress around the bases. Many scorecards have these diamonds pre-printed in a light color, and the scorekeeper writes over the lines to darken them as the player moves around. Other cards are blank and the scorekeeper must draw the diamond one side at a time. The diamond is always set up as if you are looking from the press box (which an official scorer would be). In other words, the bottom of the diamond represents home plate, the right side is first base, the top is second base, and the left side is third base. Most scorekeepers also use the corners of each player's square to show the type of play that allowed him to reach each base.

If a batter reaches base, the scorekeeper will fill in (or draw) as many sides of the diamond as necessary, and a notation will be made as to how he reached (single, walk, fielder's choice, etc.). If a batter is put out before reaching base, the diamond itself is left untouched, and the batter's square will describe how the out was made (strikeout, fly out, etc.) and by which fielder(s). Some scorekeepers also record which out it was (first, second, third) with a circled number or other mark.

After a batter becomes a runner, the diamond will be continued around as the runner progresses. Many scorekeepers will also use the space in the corners of the square to show the type of play that allowed him to reach each base (stolen base, a hit by a subsequent batter, etc.) If a runner comes around to score, there will be a complete diamond, and many scorekeepers shade in the middle of the diamond so they can quickly see the runs. Others use the middle of the diamond to indicate whether this run is earned or unearned. If a runner does not score, and is stranded on base at the end of an inning, there will be an incomplete diamond; these can also be counted rather quickly to determine the left on base total.

As each batter takes his turn at the plate, the plays are recorded and the progress of the batter and any runners tracked using the diamond shapes. At the end of an inning, some mark (frequently a slash in the lower-right of the last batter's square) is made to remind the scorekeeper to move over to the next column. Many scorecards have spaces at the bottom of the page, under each inning's column, for runs, hits, errors, and/or left on base; this makes for easy totalling at the end of the game. If a team "bats around", causing at least one player to bat twice in the same inning, the next column will be needed to extend the current inning. All subsequent innings must then be adjusted. Nearly all scorecards have extra column(s) which can accommodate this situation, or the need for extra innings if the game is tied. If a game goes beyond the width of the grid (often 12 innings), more blank pages will be needed.

Scoring notations[edit]

Drawing diamonds allows the scorekeeper to quickly see which players reached base, and how far they got, but it leaves out one important element: how. This leads to the biggest area of scorekeeping, the notations for plays. Some scorers differ in which ones they use, and some have additional abbreviations or conventions of their own, but the following are generally understood and accepted.

As mentioned above, the symbol for the play is usually put next to the base that it caused the player to reach. Thus the bottom right corner of the square shows how a player reached first base, the top right second, the top left third, and the bottom left how he scored. If a batter makes an out and never reaches first base, the symbol can be written anywhere in the box, since the diamond will not be needed.

Batter becomes a runner[edit]

Symbol Play
1B or one horizontal line ("") Single
2B or two horizontal lines ("") Double
2B-GR or GRD Ground rule double
3B or three horizontal lines ("") Triple
HR or four horizontal lines Home run
IHR Inside-the-park home run
GS Grand slam
BB Base on balls (walk)
IBB or IW Intentional walk
HBP Hit by pitch
FC Fielder's choice
E# Reached on error (by fielder #_)
CI or E2 Awarded first due to catcher's interference

Also see the section titled "Other Plays" for some additional ways that a batter may reach.

Just because a batter ends up at (for example) second base, does not mean he is automatically given a double. There may be a combination of a single and a fielding error, or a single and a play at another base that allows him to take second. Some scorers use T (for "on the throw") or the general FC for fielder's choice to show this "extra" advance.

If a batter (or runner) advances more than one base on the same play, the symbol is not repeated in each corner, since this could look like the same batter got multiple hits. The intervening corners are usually just left blank, showing that the play continues until you reach a symbol. A batter who hits a triple will have the "3B" notation in the top left corner of his square, while the bottom right and top right would be blank. (Some scorekeepers, however, prefer to list all hits, regardless of value, in the bottom right for easy reference. This is another element of personal style.)

Batter is put out[edit]

If a batter is put out before reaching first base, none of his diamond needs to be drawn, and thus the entire square can be used to show how the out was recorded. This is done by using the defensive position numbers of the players who handle the ball. For example, if a batter hits a ground ball to the shortstop, who then throws over to the first baseman, the play is recorded as "6-3".

Individual scorekeepers differ in their use of codes such as "fly ball", "ground ball", etc. Some people will record a groundout as just "6-3", others will use "G6-3". Flyouts may be either "F8" or just "8". The letters serve mainly a descriptive purpose and are not crucial to the defensive statistics.

In all cases below, the number sign is actually replaced with the fielding position(s) of whichever player(s) handle the ball.

Symbol Play
F# Fly out
IF# Infield fly
L# Line out
P# Pop out
SF# Sacrifice fly
F Foul ball (added to end of any of the above)
FF# (or F#F) Foul fly out
G# Groundout
#U Groundout to fielder #_ unassisted
K or KS Swinging strikeout
K drawn backward

or KC

Called strikeout
DP# Double play
TP# Triple play
B Bunt (added to end of any of the above)
S# or SH# Sacrifice hit (bunt)
BI or 2U Batter interference
AP# Appeal play

When a batter initially gets a base hit, and is thrown out trying to stretch his hit for extra bases, both events will be recorded. He becomes a runner who is put out on the bases (more under "advances by runners").

Most fly balls are handled by one fielder only, and most groundouts by only two (or three on a double play). However, there is no strict limit to the number of players that can touch the ball as part of a play. When a rundown occurs, or a throw is cut off and redirected toward a different base, there may be several players involved. All the fielders who take part in the play should be recorded. In a complicated play, the scorer must also remember that the fielder who happens to be covering a base may not actually be the fielder assigned to that base. It is not uncommon for infielders to move around as the play develops, and pitchers often cover a base or back up a play. It is the people who handle the ball who need to be recorded, not necessarily their current position on the field.

The pitcher is not counted as having "handled" the ball simply by the act of throwing a pitch. He is only part of the play if he throws to another fielder, or catches a throw while (for example) covering first base.

A fielder who deflects the ball without actually handling it may be considered part of the play, if the deflection changes the speed or direction of the ball in a way that is "effective" in getting an out. This is often scorer's judgement, and often involves plays where a ball is hit sharply back at the pitcher.

Advances by runners[edit]

When a runner advances due to an action by a subsequent batter, his diamond is continued around to show the bases that he reaches. In order to indicate how he advanced to each base, the corners of the box are filled in with a number that identifies that subsequent batter. Depending on the individual scorekeeper, this number can be either the uniform number, the position in the batting order, or the defensive position number.

If a runner scores, the bottom left corner of the box will end up identifying the batter who drove the run in. This provides an easy way to count RBI's. However, when a batter hits into a double play, he does not get credit for any runner(s) that may legally score at the same time. Scorekeepers will have different notes or marks to handle this situation and remind themselves not to give an RBI.

If a runner is put out on the bases, obviously his diamond is discontinued (but not erased), and the defensive play that resulted in the out (such as "6-4") is written in his square. Generally a runner's diamond is extended to each base he reaches safely, even if he is later retired as part of the same play. For example, if a runner is on first, the next batter hits a single to left, and the overzealous runner is thrown out trying to take third, the scorekeeper would draw the second section of his diamond, identify the batter who singled, and then add the defensive play (such as "7-5") that resulted in the out at third base.

Runners who advance (or attempt to advance) on their own, and not due to another batter's action, may be listed with the following symbols:

Symbol Play
SB Stolen base
WP Wild pitch
PB Passed ball
BK Balk
CS Caught stealing
PO Picked off

PO and CS may occur together, if a runner sees that he is going to be picked off and tries to run forward instead. Pursuant to rule 10.08(h), any move toward the next base is considered an attempt to steal.

Rule 10.08 also states that if more than one runner attempts to steal at the same time, and any one of them is caught, the other runners do not receive credit for a stolen base. Their advance is scored as a fielder's choice. This is also the case (usually late in the game) when a runner "steals" a base simply because of defensive indifference.

Note that if a wild pitch, passed ball, or balk is committed with multiple runners on base, any or all of the runners may advance. While it is acceptable to list the symbol several times (once for each runner), the scorer must remember (or note somehow) that really only one such foul was committed. The pitcher is not charged with three wild pitches just because three runners advance at the same time. A similar circumstance can occur with fielding errors where multiple runners advance due to the same error.

Other plays[edit]

  1. When a third strike is not caught by the catcher, the batter is able to run in an attempt to reach first base safely. In either case, the batter (and the pitcher) will be credited with a strikeout. However, if the batter reaches, most scorers would draw the line to first base and use both symbols ("K-WP") to show the play. If he is thrown out, the simple "K" is not sufficient, since it implies a putout for the catcher. This play would be recorded as "K, 2-3" (or whatever defensive players handle the ball).
  2. If a batter lays down a bunt for an apparent sacrifice, but is safe because of a fielding error, again both symbols would be recorded. The line to first base would be drawn, and something such as "SH-E2" would be listed in the corner.
  3. A batter may reach on a sacrifice bunt where the defense throws to another base in an attempt to get a preceding runner out. If they succeed, it will be scored a fielder's choice; however, if all the runners are safe, and there were no fielding errors on the play, the batter may still be credited with a sacrifice even though no one is out. This would have the line drawn and only "SH" listed in the corner of the box. Often, however, this play is simply scored as a base hit (bunt single) instead.
  4. If one fielder makes a proper throw on defense, attempting to put out a runner, but the fielder catching the ball drops it, the second fielder should be charged with the error. In this situation, however, the first fielder still gets credit for an assist even though no runners were put out. This may be noted separately in the fielding statistics, with the advance simply shown as occuring due to the error, or both may be included in the play (such as "6-E3").
  5. A similar situation occurs when a fielder drops or muffs a foul ball, and is charged with an error for allowing the batter's plate appearance to continue. Individual scorekeepers may make a separate note of this event, or may include it in the batter's square (for example, "E3-F8" if the batter later flies to center).
  6. Certain out-of-the-ordinary plays have their putouts assigned automatically by rule. Examples include the situation where one runner passes another on the base paths and is called out (automatic putout to the nearest fielder), where a runner is hit by a batted ball (also to the nearest fielder), or when a batter runs into his own batted ball in fair territory (to the catcher unassisted). A complete list is contained in scoring rule 10.10(b).

Pitch counts[edit]

Some scorekeepers will track each pitch in a game as to whether it is a ball, a strike, or a foul ball. Although this becomes cumbersome for the casual fan, there are some scorebooks which have spaces for it. Frequently these are in the square with the pre-printed diamond, and show three B's and two S's in one corner of the square. The scorekeeper marks the appropriate number of B's and S's to show what the count was at the time the pitch was hit. This system does not allow for the counting of foul balls when there are two strikes; some people will instead write in the letters B, S, or F in the batter's square as each plate appearance moves along.


When a new player enters the game, his name, uniform number, and position are added on the left side of the scorecard underneath the name of the player he replaces. Most scorecards allow for this by having at least two spaces for names next to each position in the batting order. If the same spot receives multiple substitutions, it becomes necessary to use the blank rows at the bottom of the scorecard.

Most scorekeepers make some type of mark in the scoring grid itself to indicate the point in the game where the substitute entered. This is frequently a bold vertical line at the beginning or end of the inning. When players are replaced during an inning, marks can vary, but each scorekeeper should be able to know the legal players in the game at any time. Some people also go ahead and total a player's statistics when he is replaced, since baseball rules prohibit a player re-entering the game later.

Other abbreviations used here include "PH" for a pinch hitter, and "PR" for a pinch runner. If one of these offensive substitutes remains in the game on defense, the scorer will add that position number also, showing the player as (for example) "PR-CF" or "PR/8". The same applies if a player switches positions on defense; a shortstop moving to second base would be shown as "SS-2B" or "6/4". Most scorers will also have some notation as to when the switch occurred, so that defensive statistics are counted correctly.

If a player moves only temporarily, such as an overshift or a four-man outfield for a particular hitter, this is not considered a switch in position. The defensive numbers refer to the player who is assigned that position, not necessarily their current placement on the field.

A pitching change also needs to be marked on the scorecard, not only on the side of the pitcher's own team, but also on the side of the team he is pitching against. Some type of notation is used to indicate the last batter on the other team that the pitcher faced. A common one is a solid horizontal line along the bottom of that batter's square. This allows for easy totalling of the number of batters faced, and pitching statistics such as earned runs, walks allowed, and strikeouts. Again, many scorers will tabulate the pitching statistics immediately instead of waiting until the end of the game. If there are runners on base, the number of total runs