The Importance of Scorekeepers

I was watching the Pirates game a little bit tonight and they showed a guy keeping score in the stands. The announcers talked about how they loved to see that, but so many people never do. Enough kids don’t know how to do it, they said.

I knew at some point I was going to have to write about the basics and how to get started. I’ll get there in a sec, but another key part of keeping score is why you should even do it in the first place.

So we’ll start with why:

Take a second and check out Baseball-Reference.com. You can find stats for over 17,000 major league players. If that isn’t cool enough, with the exception of 1940-1951, you can also find a box score of every single major league game—regular season, post-season, even All Star Games—dating back to 1920.

May 19, 1920. Forbes Field. Carson “Skeeter” Bigbee went 2-for-4, with a triple and scored the game-winning run as the Pittsburgh Pirates topped the Boston Braves 2-1. The game lasted just an hour and 33 minutes.

If that isn’t cool enough, more recent games have pitch-by-pitch accounts as well.

July 28, 2001. PNC Park. Astros lead the Pirates 8-2. Bottom of the ninth inning, two outs, nobody on base. Pirates win 9-8.

There were less than 33,000 people there to witness it, and none of their friends would believe that story. Who would?

But it happened. We have proof. And why? Because somebody was keeping score.

Without that guy up in the press box nobody would believe that a team 20 games out of first place beat one of the best closers in the game that afternoon… would anybody even know that Skeeter Bigbee existed if his name wasn’t in that box score?

Every single episode of SportsCenter and Baseball Tonight has featured some kind of statistical breakdown or comparison.

More than any other sport baseball allows us to compare players over a span of decades with relative fairness.

Those comparisons don’t exist without stats.

Those stats don’t exist without scorekeepers.

July 22, 2009. Pullman Park. Center fielder Brendan Malone lead off the top of the first inning of an Eagle County game with a home run. He finished the day a double short of the cycle; he might have gotten if his second inning line drive wasn’t caught by the second baseman.

I don’t remember that game. Brendan Malone probably doesn’t either. But I can tell you that like it was yesterday. Why? I was there keeping score.

Malone at the bat

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