How to Keep a Score Book in Baseball

Baseball is one of the most intricate and intriguing games to watch. Once you’ve learned some of the nuances of the game (“the game within the game” if you will), then keeping score, while at the ball park, can often enhance your enjoyment of the game. Once you’ve kept score a couple times, it’s pretty easy to do and can aid your focus on the game. One does need to know some of the symbolism before keeping score. Think about it, you’re keeping track of a lot of statistical information on two pages-one for each team.


The defensive positions are all assigned a number from one to nine. This is not to be confused with their jersey numbers. 1=pitcher, 2=catcher, 3=1st baseman, 4=2nd base, 5=3rd base, 6=shortstop, 7=left field, 8=center field and 9=right field. Offensive statistics are kept in a short hand style, as well. Some of the more common offensive marks are as follows: 1B=single, 2B=double, 3B=triple, HR=Home Run, SB=Stolen Base, BB=Base on Balls (walk), S=sacrifice and SF=sacrifice fly. If a pitcher gets a strikeout, the short hand for it is a K. The K is marked as normal if the batter strikes out swinging. The K is backward if the batter is called out on strikes. Other defensive short hand marks include: E=Error, DP=Double Play, FC=Fielder’s Choice, WP=Wild Pitch, PB=Passed Ball and CS=Caught Stealing.



The exact method for keeping score varies from person-to-person, but is largely consistent. In the furthest left-hand column, one usually marks the player’s name and defensive position on each line in batting order. (Most people skip a line between players to allow for substitutions). Working from left to right, there should be at least nine (and usually ten) columns for each batting position. With this method, there will be nine (or ten) boxes representing each of the innings in order from left to right for each batting position. Once you’ve got the lineups down, you are ready to keep score.


If you have a formal score book, there will be a baseball-diamond shaped box within each inning’s box. This isn’t necessary if you’re just using lined paper. You can draw the lines as players advance from base-to-base. If a player hits a double, for example, you can write 2B in the corresponding box and draw a line representing home-to-first and another from first-to-second. If a player flies out to left field, you simply write in a “7” in the box. (If the ball was caught in foul territory, you can write “F7”). Personally, I draw a circle around the whole inside of the box to represent an out. I know others who may jot a little “1” (or 2 or 3) and just circle the number. This is a personal preference and not necessary. For me, it’s just a quick way to keep track of outs. A ground out to third would be marked 5-3 (and in my case, draw a circle). This indicates that the third baseman threw the runner out to the first baseman. (In a defensive play involving two or more players, the last one listed is credited with a “put out” while the other(s) is credited with an “assist.”) So, if a player bunts, and the first baseman throws the runner out at first, but to the second baseman covering first, it will be marked 3-4.


So, here’s a quick sample inning. The first batter strikes out looking. Simply, mark a backwards “K” in the corresponding box (and, if you’re like me circle the “K”). The next batter lines a double to Center. Write “2B” in the box and draw the line from home-to-first and from first-to-second. The third batter gets a single to right and scores the second batter. For the scoring runner, fill in the last two lines (from second-to-third and from third-to-home) and fill in the diamond. Anyone who looks at your card and sees the filled in diamond will know that player scored. For the batter, just write in “1B” and draw the corresponding line from home-to-first. Some scorers use dots to represent runs batted in. I just write “1B/BI”. If two runs score I’ll write “1B/2BI” and so on. The fourth batter flies out to Center. Write and eight (and circle). The fifth batter grounds one to short who throws the runner from first out at second. Write FC in the box representing the batter and for the forced out runner, above the previous marks write 6-4 (and circle). Inning over. From these little marks you can see that five players batted. There were two hits in the inning and one run scored. One player will have been left on base.


This may seem complicated, but once you’ve done it a time or two, it’s really pretty easy. This is just another way to enhance one’s enjoyment of the game.

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