Going through my bookshelves, I came across a ten-year old document that I thought you might find interesting.
As part of a research project, I’d contacted Howe Sportsdata to ask if they had any official rules for scoring a professional ballgame. I was looking at official score sheets of minor league games, and found some symbols I’d never seen before. Howe sent me a document they distributed to all official scorers, which is a remarkable insight into the scorekeeping trade.
At the time, Howe was the official scoring service for minor league baseball, and collated data for Major League Baseball. Howe is no more, having been acquired by SportsTicker in December 1998. SportsTicker was just acquired by STATS Inc. on March 5. MLB brought all its stats services in-house a few years ago, and shortly thereafter took responsibility for collating minor league data.
One thing I found out from the Howe people is that there is no “official” way to score a ballgame. Most of us learned to score ballgames when we were children, but there are many systems and some people simply make up their own.
Here’s what the Howe document had to say on the subject:
It is not a requirement, but we are trying to develop a standardized scorekeeping system throughout professional baseball. Toward that end, we are supplying you with 200 play-by-play scoresheets, good for 100 games. We understand longtime scorers have their own particular method that they will want to stay with, but otherwise scorers are strongly encouraged to stick as closely as possible to the uniform system outlined here.
These days, it’s all done by computer. Go into any press box in affiliated baseball and you’ll find them connected to a web page programmed by MLB Advanced Media (commonly known as BAM). It’s all a standard interface. When entering lineups, the scorer actually enters for each player a unique ID number assigned by BAM.
But if you’re a fan, you’ll still do it the old-fashioned way, with a scorebook and a pencil.
The Howe document includes a sample scoresheet, the sheet for Game #7 of the 1960 World Series between the Yankees and Pirates. It’s famous for Bill Mazeroski hitting a home run in the bottom of the 9th to give the Pirates the championship (long before it was called a “walk-off” homer.)
Here’s a tidbit I bet you didn’t know … No batter struck out in the game.