Earlier in the week New York Times published an article titled “Who Scores Games by Hand Anymore?” and NPR followed up with one of their own called “Keeping Score: How To Understand Baseball“. So to answer the question, “Who scores games by hand anymore?”, I do. I keep score at every single game I attend, in my beat up scorebook, rotating between pen and pencil, depending on the outcome of the previous game I attended.
It’s true, the art of keeping score by hand is dying. If I scan the crowd around me, looking for someone who might be able to tell me what happened if I missed a play, I am typically the only person keeping score. Almost always there’s a fan nearby who compliments me for keeping track of the game via scorebook, usually shocked also because I am a woman, and it wasn’t until I read both of these articles that I didn’t question why no one cared enough to keep score anymore. A quote that really caught my attention in the NPR article was this:
Maybe the biggest reason so few people keep score these days — or even stay put in their seats watching the game for more than a few innings at a time — is that a day at the ballpark isn’t just about baseball anymore (if it ever was). Games and videos on the scoreboard, music, high-priced fancy food and drink, shops and playgrounds. And then, of course, so many of us have complete multi-purpose entertainment systems in our pockets. All these compete with the baseball for your attention.
It does make sense, I assume many casual fans attend games to be entertained, and sadly, the team on the field just doesn’t seem to do it anymore for them. But, in Oakland, we don’t have the pizazz that many new ballparks have, we don’t have the loud music, or the kiss cam or the fancy food and shops, which “forces” us to come for the game and only the game. So why is it also happening in Oakland?
I started keeping score around five seasons ago, when I was finding myself getting up and leaving my seat too often. I enjoyed watching baseball, but for some reason, it was really hard for me to sit through nine innings without needing to get up several times to take a “breather” from the game. I wanted something to fix my antsyness and to get me back into watching the game from the first pitch to the last, so I learned how to keep score. I fell in love with score keeping instantly, I wanted to watch and record every single pitch and to be sure that every play was recorded correctly, and for the first time I was finally able to watch a baseball game without getting up out of my seat.
Thanks to social media, I now have several friends to sit and watch games with and who manage to keep me in my seat throughout the game, but I still keep score every game I attend. I no longer keep track of balls and strikes and may miss an occasional play, but score keeping reminds me that, while I love spending time out there with all my fellow fans, I am there to watch a game. I always go to my score books before I go to the internet to look up what a player might have done at one of the games I have attended and with score keeping comes a free souvenir from every game.
I understand why people don’t keep score, because it is hard sitting for three hours straight, especially if it’s a slow game. We now live in a world where we can find any piece of information simply by picking up our phones and asking “Siri” to tell us what the box score from yesterday’s game looks like. For me, keeping score is fun, and I plan on passing down the tradition to my kids, so they too, will learn to attend baseball games for all the right reasons.