We proudly arrived at our seats for Game 2 of the 2014 American League Championship Series game held in Baltimore last fall. There they were, right next to me, two fans, each displaying detailed old-school score books. “Those are your people.” my husband said. “You guys score?” I asked them. “Oh, yes. For every game,” the woman fan said, “I have done it since I was a kid.” There is a guy at every Orioles game, almost always alone, dutifully recording the details of the game in his elaborate system of notebooks. I know that he is serious, because I see him record the attendance as soon as it is announced. I love that guy and those like him that I have seen at every ballpark from Camden Yards to Wrigley to Fenway.
Baseball scorekeeping features many of my highest values. Present-mindedness. Focus. Order. Detail. Clarity. It is meditative. It defines and makes sense out of what appears to be chaos. In scorekeeping, as in life, you must remain simultaneously alert and calm, first carefully observing what happens, noting it, then analyzing it later.
Even though most of the information that you are recording is blasted on digital screens all over the ballpark, there is something very intimate about holding the list of the lineup in your own hand, knowing who is up next and what they did last. Keeping a score sheet allows you to leave the game with a detailed account of what happened and when it happened written in your own hand. I love to look back at those score sheets and remember why my handwriting slipped in certain sections (I must have been jumping out of my seat). Or, sections where frustration and rage is apparent in my penmanship (a huge backwards “K” to denote “struck out looking”). I love looking at the spots where the writing suddenly shifts to my husband’s handwriting (where did I go? Oh right, that’s when I was in line for ice cream). Unlike reading someone else’s account of a game online or in the newspaper, a baseball score sheet gives you your own precious and personal memento of a baseball experience.