Home Keeping score Baseball Scorekeeping: A Practical Guide to the Rules by Andres Wirkmaa

Baseball Scorekeeping: A Practical Guide to the Rules by Andres Wirkmaa

by Joe Gray

(McFarland & Co, 2003) 278 pages.

Despite having always been an avid baseball fan, Andres Wirkmaa’s serious participation in the sport did not begin until he was in his early forties, when, in 1991, he began coaching youth baseball. Ten years later, having participated in many areas of the great game, he was invited by McFarland & Co to write a definitive dissertation on the official rules of baseball scoring. The result, published in 2003, was Baseball Scorekeeping: A Practical Guide to the Rules.

In the preface to the book, Wirkmaa is quick to make the distinction between “casual scorekeeping” and “serious scorekeeping”.

“Casual scorekeeping is a wonderful adjunct to taking in a ball game for countless baseball fans around the world. After all, it’s fun to keep score; and when you’re doing it just for your own amusement, there isn’t any compelling need to dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’.

However, serious scorekeeping – that is, official scorekeeping – is different. To perform it properly and accurately requires a thorough knowledge of the rules that govern scorekeeping – and those rules must be followed scrupulously to ensure that the data it generates are valid and true.”

If it’s casual scorekeeping that is your thing, then check out Matt’s first-class review of The Joy of Keeping Score instead.

If, however, your interest is as an official scorer, then you have no choice but to get a copy of Baseball Scorekeeping: A Practical Guide to the Rules, as it appears to be the only book in print on the subject.

It is fortunate, then, that Wirkmaa does a more-than-adequate job of covering the rules. The book is written as if Wirkmaa does not want to take a chance that the reader will finish the book without a full understanding of every rule. Because of this, the text is extremely thorough – perhaps too thorough in places – but this is a minor criticism of what is a much-needed fleshing out of a set of rules that can, in places, be confusing.

I can’t recall how many times since buying the book a few years back something out of the ordinary has happened on the diamond and I’ve felt the need to refer to the book to check Wirkmaa’s interpretation of a rule against my own, but my copy looks like it’s been taken to the plate instead of a bat a few times, and possibly hit the ball to the outfield once or twice (I hope if the author stumbles across this review that he sees this description as a compliment).

In short, if you are serious about scorekeeping and are looking for a discussion of the rules, then this book will be worth every penny. If, however, you have a casual interest then you may wish to think carefully before parting with your pounds, but  maybe this book is just what you need to help you bridge the gap.

This book concerns the rules of scoring rather than the notations to be used. If you are a British scorer reading this review because you are interested in getting instructions on notations to use in recording a game, then the International Baseball Federation’s Scoring Manual can be downloaded here.

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