Whoops, I didn't mean to put it in minor league discussions...
I'm not sure whether this is the right place to put this topic, but I was curioius how many of us like to keep score during games. I used to listen to the radio and score along for every game but have gotten away from it a bit. It does help me to keep my head in the game when I do it. I do still tend to do it when I'm actually at a game. I remember seeing a Boswell quote at some point to the effect that one isn't a true fan until one has devised a unique system of scoring. Mine has evolved with time to where I'm pretty happy with it, but I still would like to revise the form that I'm currently using (from baseballscorecard.com).
Scorekeeping remains an art form
06/01/2007 10:00 AM ET
By Becky Regan / MLB.com
True baseball fans have followed their sport through decades of change. They've watched as the game shifted from swinging for contact to swinging for the fences, from complete-game pitchers to power bullpens, from crackling radio broadcasts to HDTV. But through the decades of change, one aspect has remained timeless -- scorekeeping.
Long before ballparks featured fancy scoreboards with instant replay, before players wore jerseys with their names scrawled on the back, the best way to follow America's pastime was with a piece of paper and pen or pencil.
Back then, the way to watch a game was to score it, and Giants announcer Jon Miller remembers the time well.
"When I was a kid, I used to buy a scorecard and keep score at the games. I don't think that many people do that any more, but you needed the scorecard back then," Miller said.
If scorekeeping were on the college curriculum, Miller would be teaching the master's course. Since those beginning days of scoring, Miller has become somewhat of an expert scorekeeper during his 33 years of announcing. "The Voice of the Giants" and longtime ESPN announcer is an authority on the art of scoring a ballgame. Like most announcers, Miller has diligently kept score at every game he has announced, which puts him right near 5,500 games scored, not counting Spring Training and recreational scorekeeping.
"Paying attention to details is what scorekeeping is all about," Miller said as he pulls out a large handful of scoring pens.
Before each game, Miller arranges a lengthy line of blue and red pens on the desk in front of him.
"That guy's my starter, and he's in the bullpen," Miller said pointing to the top two blue pens in the rotation.
Miller uses a finely tuned, color-coded system to keep score. It's always important to keep extra blue pens, Miller says, in case a rogue pen drops under the desk and he needs to bring in a reliever.
The red pens are for special occasions only, such as pinch-runners or defensive changes. An extra special defensive play can also earn Miller's red star of approval.
The majority of Miller's scorekeeping is done in blue and in extreme detail. Miller doesn't just record an out; it's marked as D78 for a deep fly to left center.
When Miller scores, he marks tiny horizontal lines to denote base hits, and he accounts for how each runner advanced. He notes when new players came in and even when a guy breaks a bat because it could be a trend. More than anything, that is what Miller's scorebooks are, a map to chart trends and unveil player patterns.
Most scorebooks don't stand up next to his, but Miller respects every scorekeeper's own style. Co-announcer Dave Flemming's style, however, is a little too messy for Miller's taste.
"I do mine the right way, but Jon doesn't like it because he can't read it," Flemming said.
In Flemming's defense, the tiny boxes don't leave much room to be tidy, but Miller manages.
"See this, that's the proper way," said Miller, flipping his book open to an immaculately scored game.
The way Miller keeps careful detail in his book is similar to the way he takes time to learn the correct pronunciation of every player's name. When it comes to baseball, Miller makes time for the details.
When Miller was 10, his dad taught him how to keep score at Candlestick Park. Dad bought his son a little scorebook and showed him what to do. Miller scored his first game one night when he was listening to a Giants game at home.
"I realized I enjoyed the game much more because I was totally involved now in the game," Miller said. "It was no longer just something in the background. I had to pay attention all the time."
Miller can see his childhood home where he scored his first game from his new scorekeeping perch at AT&T Park. When Miller looks out over right field on a clear day, a few feet left of the foul pole, across the water and up the hill a bit, he sees his old neighborhood where his love of baseball started.
Miller didn't keep score regularly back then, but started to when he took his first baseball announcing gig with the Oakland A's in '74. From there Miller went to the Rangers, the Red Sox and then the Orioles for 14 years before returning to San Francisco in '97. But no matter where he was announcing, Miller always had a scorebook with him. It was there for the 10 World Series he called and it's there for every Sunday night game he calls with Joe Morgan on ESPN.
Miller keeps the years of scorebooks in his office at home. He doesn't go through the old books much, but knows he has a written record of 33 years whenever he needs it.
In 2005, before Miller spoke at the Juan Marichal statue unveiling, he went digging through those books searching for a memory of a Marichal game that he scored back when he announced for Oakland. The game Miller was looking for turned out to be the last game Marichal ever won. When Miller realized, he copied the scorecard and placed the piece of history in its owner's hands.
"It was 32 years after the fact that I actually realized, wow that was the last game he had ever won and I actually broadcasted the game," Miller said.
The game was on Aug. 11, 1974, and Marichal's Red Sox defeated the soon-to-be World Series champion A's, 2-1, in Oakland.
There are probably dozens of historic moments in Miller's books, like the day Cal Ripken Jr. broke Lou Gehrig's consecutive game record in 1995.
President Bill Clinton was in the broadcasting booth with Miller for Ripken's 2,131st game and made the scorecard even more historic by signing it.
"That one with the president, I probably should do something with it," Miller said.
But after a lifetime of scorekeeping, who's to say which scorecard is the most important? Miller's been there for too many historic moments to pick just one, always ready with his blue pen poised and a backup in the bullpen.