Did you find it hard to learn to keep score in baseball?

I’ve been a baseball fan all my life but only learned the very basics of how to keep score in youth ball. That was one thing you were supposed to do when you weren’t playing. Since I’ve got plenty of time this summer (still out of work) I figured it’s time to finally learn. I assume it’s not too hard and I should pick it up within a week, many baseball managers aren’t exactly Rhodes scholars and they’ve learned it.

Any tips? I assume I can easily buy blank scorecards on Amazon or another website

Generally, it’s pretty straightforward – it’s just a matter of learning the notation.

It can get messy with the occasional weird play (mulitiple errors, rundowns and other plays with numerous exchanges between fielders, etc.), but I always figured that, as long as I wasn’t the official scorer (whoh has to accurately document everything), if I could go back and see the net result of the play (and which player got credited with what), I did OK. :slight_smile:

Yup - that’s the gist of it. I used to score World Series games when I was a kid, and occasionally at the ballpark. Every scoresheet I’ve gotten had basic instructions somewhere on it. You can get really detailed if you like, or keep it rudimentary.

There’s keeping score and then there’s keeping score. The level of complexity is entirely up to you. If you literally want to just keep track of who’s winning, it’s pretty simple; if you want to keep track of basic hitting and pitching statistics, it’s more complex but not hard; if you want to be able to fully reconstruct all plays and keep fielding statistics, it’s a bit more complex and takes a bit of practice to do without later going back and saying “What the hell did I mean here?” But it’s not rocket science, as evidence by the fact that I can do it.

I didn’t find it hard to learn. I found it hard to do, it took away from my enjoyment of the game, so I stopped trying. My son kept the book for his high school basketball team. When the refs or coaches wanted to check on something they looked at his book, they knew he had it recorded right. It takes the right kind of personality to be a good scorer.

It’s not hard. As others have said there are levels of details that make it more or less involved, but it’s not hard.
Rather than use a score sheet you could pick up at a game (some of which have bizarre notations), just download one. There are dozens online with instructions.

Nah - you don’t want a bunch of loose leaf blowing all over the place. You have to look official. Get something old school. This or this would be great.

And the sad thing is that the printer in my apartment building’s resident lounge has been locked up since Covid. I very rarely need hard copy of anything so it hasn’t really been an issue. But yeah, I’m gonna order one from Amazon. I’ll start with games where I have no rooting interest except for perhaps fantasy.

Just remember “WW”, perhaps the most important notation on the scorecard.

Longtime New York Yankees announcer Phil Rizzuto, when distracted from the action on the field, would often mark his scorecard “WW” for “Wasn’t Watching.”

If you have a tablet, I gotta think the app stores must have some scorekeeping apps by now.

As others have said, how hard it is depends on how detailed you want to be or need to be. Depends on what level you’re at. If you’re keeping book for an in-house league of 10-year-olds, I wouldn’t worry too much about hits vs. errors. If you’re working for a 14u travel team, your manager probably wants you to chart pitches (type thrown, location, etc.), which is a PITA.

When I’ve kept book, I always kept track of where the hitters hit the ball, so that I could help the fielders. If this batter hit the ball to left field 3 times so far, I’m going to warn the left fielder (and shortstop / 3rd base) to be ready. Big hitter? Back it up. Bunted twice? Get ready for a bunt!

When I was first picking it up, the Diamondbacks offered a score keeping class before some of the games. They were free; you just had to sign up for it and show an hour early at the park. It had one of the broadcasters who had a PowerPoint with the “standard” notations and he stressed it was your scorecard, you can use whatever system or keep as much detail as you want.

He then had videos of plays, starting with the simple stuff like a 6-4-3 double play, then more complex decisions like, “was that a wild pitch or a passed ball?” He then said, “Okay, here’s a graduate level play,” and showed a triple play with (I think) six players handling the ball, some of them twice.

Everybody was, “Uh-h-h,” and he said, “Don’t worry about it – I had to look at the replay myself.”

Since then, on their fancy scoreboard, up in the corner for a few seconds the scorekeeper’s decision on things that might be confusing is shown. I mean, a home run is obvious to everybody but an error would post E3 or E5 on a botched throw to first.

I didn’t find it hard at all. I’d both played and watched since I was 8, and would look at what coaches were writing. I’ve kept score up to college level.

I find keeping score in a baseball game to not be particularly distracting, but I think that part of it is that the game, itself, isn’t fast-paced. Unless you’re keeping score at an individual pitch level, you can make your scoring notations after a play ends, and still usually have plenty of time to return your focus to watching when play resumes.

I’ve kept score in football games a few times, and that, I find, does make it harder to enjoy the game, because by the time you finish making your notes for a play, the next play may already be underway.

One of my friends from high school is a scorekeeper as a side job/hobby; he’s done scorekeeping for a number of minor league baseball teams and semi-pro football teams. And, I agree, it’s something that he has a particular gift for, and he has the right personality for the job – he’s very detail-oriented, and understanding the statistics is a big part of the enjoyment he gets from watching sports.

I consider myself a basic beginner at it so take this with a grain of salt. I’ve enjoyed it when I’ve done it. Once you get familiar it becomes less work and more enjoyment and pasttime and creating a record of your game. But for me it is still work, and you can’t take a break, go hit the head or stand in line for a beer, that sort of thing.

You’ll definitely want to drain your bladder before the game starts.

There are probably apps, yes, but call me old fashioned, I like pencil on paper.

@Telemark – WW, love it!

@DesertDog, I wish the SF Giants did that, held a class like the AZ D’backs do. Great idea.

Different books have slightly different rules. Is there a source as to a more official way to keep score?

I’m on a mission to visit every ball park and I’ve started keeping score of the one game I’d go to at a new park. It’s a nice souvenir of the game. My brother gave me the MLB Ballpark Pass-Port Book and that’s also a nice memento of my game at a new park. Here it is, MLB Ballpark Pass-Port Book - Google Search.

Back to score keeping, here are some tools of the trade that I like using:

I’ve found that an eraser shield comes in handy, to erase specific small numbers or words surrounded by other writing you don’t want erased. It’s a thin credit-card sized flexible metal that comes in handy. Here >> https://is.gd/IpYnVt

I also like these for erasers, https://is.gd/fdIEJK. STAEDTLER Mars plastic erasers. In my many years of studying mathematics, I’ve found these to be the best erasers, picking up the lead while not destroying the paper it’s written on (which some erasers do). You don’t have to get this shape and holder, but they also have block erasers of the same eraser compound. But I like the stick-shaped ones.

And of course, an 0.05 mechanical pencil in HB lead hardness. You can also go H for a little harder. 2H is way to harsh for me. HB is equivalent to the standard “#2 pencil” lead and that’s what I prefer.

Those are some tools of the trade from a math major who’s erased many tiny exponents and subscripts through many math classes.

Opening Day is today! Play ball!

You should also download the MLB Ballpark app. You can check into the games you go to, enter your seat number, write a few memories down and save pictures you take at the game.

Cool, yes! Thanks @Munch.

The friend who taught me to score picked a 9-8 Red Sox win in 2000 that featured 13 pitchers and a first inning with more than nine at bats, so after that it all seemed easy.

It does turn out to be distracting from just enjoying the game, so I quit after the first WS win.

I loved to keep score as a kid, both of MLB games I watched or went to, and for the table-baseball games I played (I was an APBA guy). Doing LL games is a PIA because of all the substitutions, and bat-around innings requiring reworking of the columns. The level of detail needed is dependent on the level of play and pitch counts were usually someone else’s problem.

Here are a few good articles about how to do it, and the history. Dwight Eisenhower was famous for scoring all the games he attended as President, and for his very neat style. There’s a pic of one of his sheets in the second link.

Once I started being more distracted at the games (primarily by the beer vendor) my habit tailed off, but I still have some old paper programs with my scoring somewhere.


My aforementioned statistican friend and I played a ton of APBA football and baseball together when we were in high school. (Later, in college, I got into Strat-o-Matic, as well.)