Home Keeping score BGB ‘Reference’ scorecard

BGB ‘Reference’ scorecard

by Matt Smith

Keeping Score Season

This is the second scorecard we have produced, following the ‘innings’ scorecard that was published on Saturday.   The ‘reference’ scorecard should be perfect for anyone who is new to scoring and/or fans who like to use a compact, vertical sheet. 

It can be downloaded here (pdf) alongside an ‘Extra sheet’ (more on this in a moment).  Read on to learn more about its design and to look at a completed example recording a 2008 regular season game between the Washington Nationals and the Chicago Cubs. 

Scorecard design

Firstly, this scorecard uses a vertical ‘grid’ layout rather than an ‘innings-based’ layout, as used in the other scorecard.  This makes it tidier if more than nine batters step up to the plate in an inning and provides you with a unique reference number for every plate appearance that can be used to accurately chart player substitutions. 

The compact layout also leaves more room around the main area of the scorecard and I have used this space to provide a list of abbreviations, scoring symbols and definitions of key scoring terms. These are all the things that you need to know to be able to score.  You will pick them up with practice, but having a handy reference sheet right there on the scorecard should make it much easier to score when you are starting out and will hopefully enable you to learn how to keep score more quickly.  And even when you have been keeping score for a while, sometimes it’s useful to have a prompt just in case your memory fails you.

The one key difference with this scorecard is that as every column doesn’t relate to a single inning, you need to note where an inning begins.  This is easily done by drawing a thick line at the top of the relevant box, with the inning number underneath (as shown in the example). 

The scorecard includes two non-standard features that are worth explaining here, not least because they only have to be used occasionally and are not covered in the example.  Both features are carried over from Alex Reisner’s scorecard, on which this is largely based (Alex has kindly given me permission to incorporate these features).

Auxiliary boxes.  There are two auxiliary boxes on each page, positioned next to the pitching lines.   In the BBfB I noted that there is a rare third possible plate appearance outcome when the third out of an inning is made on the bases.  When this happens, the plate appearance is voided and the batter starts again in the next inning.  In an innings-based scorecard that’s fine because you could note this down (for example in the box in the third inning column) and just shift over to the next column (e.g. fourth inning column), but that’s not an option here.  Instead you would note the voided plate appearance in one of the auxiliary boxes. 

For example: the batter in grid number 14 steps up to bat, but one of his team mates gets picked off from first base to end the inning.  You would note the pick off in the relevant box then go down to the auxiliary box and number it 13a with a note in the diamond to show the plate appearance was voided.  You can then start the next inning in the normal place (grid number 14), but you haven’t lost the fact that the batter was at the plate in the previous inning.

Additional batters.  The compact layout allows you to have a space to note in any additional batters that don’t fit into the main scorecard.  Again, this doesn’t happen all that often (you already have space for three different batters per batting lineup spot), but when it does it will be very useful.  Use the ‘Bats’ box to note down which batting lineup spot the batter hit in (by noting the relevant number; from one to nine).

Finally, this scorecard comes with an ‘Extra sheet’.  Using a grid system with unique numbers has lots of benefits, but there is a downside with it.  On a traditional scorecard, if a game goes deep into extra innings you can simply carry on scoring with another copy of the original sheet, re-numbering the innings as you go.  You cannot do this with the grid system because the unique numbers, essential for charting substitutions and such, will be completely out of line. 

Consequently I’ve created an ‘Extra sheet’ that begins at grid number 55 and has a large box at the top of each side to allow you to record all of the necessary notes (which game this sheet refers to etc).  You won’t need to use it very often, but it will be worth always having a copy on you just in case.

The game: 22 August 2008 – Nationals versus Cubs (pdf)

This example of a completed scorecard comes from a regular season game between the Washington Nationals and the Chicago Cubs.  You’ll notice that I scored this game on an earlier version of the scorecard which doesn’t include all of the abbreviations.

As always, there are two sides to the scorecard with the Nationals’ batting lineup and the Cubs’ pitchers on one side and the Cubs’ batting lineup and the Nationals’ pitchers on the other.

The Nationals were unable to get much going over the first five innings, only managing three base runners against Jason Marquis.  It all fell apart for the Cubs’ starter in the sixth inning though, when all nine Nats batters came up to the plate and six came home to score.  Willie Harris delivered the big blow with a grand slam to right-centre field and he added another home run, this time to left field, in the ninth inning.  The scorecard shows that Ronnie Belliard had a great day too (4 for 5 including a homer and two doubles) and that the bottom three spots in the Nats’ batting order batted in nine of the team’s thirteen runs.

As for the Cubs, they had a productive first four innings that saw them take a 4-0 lead.  However, the Nationals’ starter Jon Lannan stemmed the flow by having a three up/three down inning in the bottom of the fifth and he followed this by doing the same in the bottom of the sixth.  These strong innings came either side of the Nationals’ six-run outburst and played a crucial role in turning the game on its head in favour of the road team.

The Cubs’ scorecard offers two scoring plays worth taking a closer look at.  In box 10, Alfonso Soriano’s second plate appearance of the game is simply summed up by ‘FO’, which is my abbreviation for a force out.  The lack of any notation describing the fielders involved shows that Soriano hit into the force out to end the inning, but was not the actual player forced out.  Checking back over the inning reveals that it was Mark De Rosa (box 7) who was forced out at second base on the play.  As he was the third out, I noted down the number ‘3′ and circled it.

Mark De Rosa was involved in the other interesting play.  With two outs in the sixth inning, De Rosa hit a single into left field and tried to stretch it into a double (see box 25).  The left fielder collected the ball and fired it to second base, where the second baseman was able to tag out De Rosa before he reached the bag.  Don’t forget that even though this play ended up in the batter being put out, he still gets credited with the number of bases he had successfully attained prior to the out.  In this case, I’ve noted that De Rosa hit a single and carried the line around the diamond half-way to second base before cutting it off and adding the ‘7-4′ note.

If you have any comments about the scorecard, please send them on via the box below.

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Jamie Crompton April 21, 2013 - 12:44 am

You mention a pickoff at first but don’t say how to score it, and I can’t find it on the scorecard. Is “1-3” sufficient or does it have its own abbreviation?

Matt Smith April 21, 2013 - 2:03 pm

1-3 will normally be enough to work out what happened, but you can add PO to it to clearly show it was a pick-off at 1st.


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