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Teaching Baseball to Kids

Read how I fail so you don't have to.

I have fond memories of sitting in my dorm room at college oblivious to the odd looks of people walking by – as I scored Yankee’s playoff games in September/October. I love keeping score – it’s a great way to stay plugged into the game at all times. Coaches, how many times have you gone back to your scorebook and wished that you had more detail? Keeping a good scorebook is art form that is becoming more rare every year. Let’s fix that with some great tips on how to keep a good scorebook!

I use a modified version of this guide – but that’s the great part of keeping score, each scorekeeper has their own special way of doing things. Coach preference, personal style all play a part in that. Regardless of all that, keeping a good scorebook means that someone can pick it up and know exactly what went on without having seen the game. To do that we need to make sure we can first identify the players and abbreviations you’ll need.

1 – Pitcher
2 – Catcher
3 – First Baseman
4 – Second Baseman
5 – Third Baseman
6 – Short Stop
7 – Left Fielder
8 – Center Fielder
9 – Right Fielder
*You can also add a 10th player for softball or PeeWee baseball

These are the actions in baseball and their abbreviations for the scorebook:
* or ! – Great Defensive Play
1B – Single
2B – Double
3B – Triple
A – Assist (fielder whose action contributes to a batter-runner or runner being put out)

BB – Base on Balls
BK – Balk
BS – Blown Save
BT – Bunt
CS – Caught Stealing
CI – Catcher interference
DP – Double Play
DH – Designated Hitter
E – Error
Et – Error on Throw
FC – Fielder’s Choice
HB – Hit by Ball (runner)
HBP – Hit By Pitch
HR – Home Run
INT – Interference (non-catcher)
IBB – Intentional Base on Balls
IF – Infield Fly
K – Strikeout
Kc – Strikeout – Called (or backwards K)
LD – Line Drive
Obs – Obstruction
PB – Passed Ball
PH – Pinch Hit
PO – Putout (whoever actually gets the out on the play)
PKO – Picked off base
PR – Pinch Runner
RBI – Runs Batted In
SAC – Sacrifice
SB – Stolen Base
TP – Triple Play
U – Unassisted Putout
WP – Wild Pitch

Once you know the position designations and the abbreviations you’ll use, you’re ready to fill out the starting roster. Most score-books will have a spot for the player number, player first and last name, position name, and inning. Sometimes the position name and inning will be in the same box dissected with a diagonal line, some have separate columns.
Once your starting lineup is set, now you can focus on the fun part – tracking what happens in the game. Usually there is a spot for balls and strikes, a check mark or X or simply a line or dot will do for those. You can put small X’s next to the strike area for foul balls (one X per foul ball). If a player hits a fly ball into the outfield and the center fielder catches the ball for the first out it would look something like this:

This means the first pitch was a strike, the second pitch was a ball, and the third pitch was another strike.  The foul ball (X on the left) could have happened on the first pitch or the third.  You could also put the X above the strike where it happened.  To denote the out you put the number of the out below the diamond and circle it (1) to make sure it’s visible.In this example, the next two batters are shown. The first batter was walked on 4 straight balls. There is a slight tick on first base showing the runner stopped there. Then, there was a wild pitch (WP) and the runner advanced to second base (another tick). The next batter then battled his way to a full count before punching a base hit into center field, scoring the runner. The dot to the left of the diamond shows that the batter was credited with an RBI. The dot in the center of the diamond shows that this batter/runner scored a run.

The toughest thing for scorekeepers to decide (especially at little league games) is if a batter reached base on a base hit, error, or fielder’s choice. Award a base hit if you think that regardless of what happened, you don’t believe the fielder could have gotten the batter out. If the batter hits a hard ground ball that the second baseman dives for, but glances off his glove – you’re going to award that batter with a base hit.

If regular ground ball (not crushed) is hit to a second baseman who takes a step or two either direction, and the second baseman bobbles the ball and doesn’t make the play at first – this is an error, and you would outline the baseline to first base, draw a squiggly line (to denote a ground ball) to the right side and denote the at bat as ‘E-4’ (an error on the second baseman). Errors are assigned when to your best knowledge this was a routine play that the player should have made an out on.

If there was a runner on first base, and the same ball was hit to the second baseman – but this time he makes the catch and throws to second to get the force out there, this is NOT a base hit for the batter. The second baseman could have thrown to first and got the batter out. This is called a fielder’s choice and would be denoted FC 4-6 on the runner box with a half line going from first to second, and the number of outs that made it circled under the diamond. You would also write ‘FC’ for fielders choice in the batters box and darken the line to first base showing him being there now.What kind of a hit was it? Was it a ground ball? Fly ball? Line drive? This guide I got images from obviously liked to show all hits with a single straight line. As a coach, I’d like to see if a player has been hitting ground balls, line drives, or popping out alot. I like to show a little wiggle in my ground ball designations, a little curve in the pop-fly designations, and leave the line drives as a straight line.

I’ll go into substitutions and some more advanced techniques next time. In the meantime, don’t be afraid to volunteer to keep score- now you know how to give your coach a great picture about how the game went. Enjoy!


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