For the past 17 seasons I have diligently kept score at every Arizona Diamondbacks game played at Bank One Ballpark/Chase Field. Nearly every season some fan will sit near me and ask me, “Why do you do that?” It’s hard to explain.
Part of it may be because of all the time I spent charting pitches when I played. Once you start tracking every pitch of every game it just feels incomplete when you watch a game without doing it.
Some if it is a result of my own curiosity. I kept score at the first Diamondbacks game just for historical purposes so I could go back and remember what that night was like. After a couple of games my kids began asking me questions like how many baseballs does a team go through each game or how long does a ball stay in play before it is released.
Soon it wasn’t just pitches and plays on the field that I was keeping track of. I started noting whenever a ball was taken out of play or how many baseballs the Diamondbacks went through. Based on my estimation a ball at Chase Field lasts approximately 6 pitches before it is retired either as a foul ball, a ball in the dirt, a ball at the end of an inning, or a home run. Over the course of a game there are roughly 60 balls that are removed or retired which is slightly below league average of 72 that MLB anticipates. Not to worry, normally umpires have approximately 90 balls that they prepare for each game so there should be plenty.
Besides the on-field action that I collect at every game I also am requested to track other things as well. Who were the umpires? What was the time of the game? What Jersey did the team wear? How many first pitch strikes were thrown? And perhaps the two most important questions, who won the Circle K Hot Dog Races and Who Won the Legends Race?
Baseball is a game of numbers and the deeper you start to score the more you realize that there is no way possible to track everything. Over the course of my career as a Diamondbacks fan I have gone through a multitude of scorebooks. I have tried several brands and several sizes.
For the past three years I have been using the Score-Right scorebook. I’ve used both the big score book which is 11”x14” spiral bound and the smaller classic scorebook which is 9.25”x14”. For the most part I have been happy with these but they are not without their challenges.
The scorebook only has 10 innings per page and if there are years like last year you end up using a lot of additional pages for one or two extra innings. I like that you can have four position changes which work for most cases except for the ninth position in the batting order which almost always goes over that with all the pitching changes.
The pitching section is likewise limited to only four pitchers. Given the situational nature of bullpens these days that is rarely enough requiring me to split the pitching lines for multiple pitchers per line.
While I keep score at every game and track every pitch and pitch count I am rather haphazard about tracking putouts and assists and given the 81 game home schedule I normally will not track batting average or utilize the totals for slugging percentage and others.
Perhaps the biggest complaint is that there is nowhere to record things like jersey color, other umpires besides home plate, time of first pitch, who attended the game with me, the hot dog race winner, the legends race winner, or seat location. Those may seem trivial but try telling that to my kids. Another challenge is that the Score-Right Scorebook only holds 30 games or less if the games go extra innings. This means it will take three scorebooks per season possibly four if the team goes deep into the playoffs or plays a lot of extra inning games.
I vowed that one day I would develop my own scorebook specifically for the Diamondbacks that would include all the information I needed in a way that I could find it quickly and easily. That day never seems to come, as it is usually easier to just go to the store and pick up a new scorebook.
This year I had a brief scare when I realized my stash of scorebooks had run low and I was down to my last book. After going online to my normal sources and finding out the scorebook was out of stock everywhere I began to panic. I finally found a few at Big Five Sports and picked up enough to last this season and next. But maybe it is time to start looking at creating my own scorebook.
I sat down at the computer this weekend and began drawing out what I wanted the scorebook to look like. Before long I had created what I think might work. I’ve created two sizes. The first is 9.25”x11” similar to the Score-Right book that I like. The other is the more standard 8.5”x11”. The smaller size loses two pitcher entries and some white space but overall is quite usable.
This new scorecard will support 12 innings, which will take care of 80 percent of the extra inning games that are normally played. It retains the four player per lineup position but gives me a way to keep track of 9 pitchers (7 pitchers on the smaller size).
I’m going to look around and see if I can find a printer who can create the larger of the two and my plans are to be able to hold 81 games per book. This way I can keep an entire home half of the season in one book (assuming no extra inning games over 12 innings). I may have them hold 92 games, which would be enough for an 81 game home season plus enough for a Wildcard game, 3 games in the Divisional Series, 4 games in the League Championship Series, and 4 games in the World Series meaning you could have all of that in one book.
I’ve created a PDF version of the 8.5”x11” scorebook page and uploaded it to the site in case anyone wants to try it and give me feedback. Scoring baseball games is a very personal experience and everyone does it differently. What might work for some may not work for others but I think I have reached a happy medium. If anyone is interested in the scorebook they can leave comments here and I will update the project as I get further down the development process.
If you have never kept score at a baseball game you should try it at least once. It brings a whole new dimension to the game that you might not have had before.