Keeping Score To Get Ahead

On July 10, 1990, the Major League Baseball All-Star Game was hosted by the Cubs in Chicago. Lights had been installed at historic Wrigley Field just two years earlier. The IMG_1060game’s rosters included 13 players and one manager who are now in the Hall of Fame. There was a rain delay in the 7th inning. The American League ultimately won 2-0, with the National League held to only 2 hits. I was 10 years old.

It seems possible that this was the first time I watched an All-Star Game. I know it was the first time that I kept score of the game . . . but it wasn’t the last.

Somewhere along the way of playing baseball myself, I had already learned the basics of filling out the scorebook. There are as many scorekeeping systems as there are scorekeepers. But typically it includes drawing lines in the shape of the diamond to track where on the base paths each hitter advanced as a result of each plate appearance and noting how each out is made.

I’m not really writing this to teach anyone how to keep score. Instead, I’m writing to encourage everyone to try it. More specifically, I’m suggesting that young ballplayers should experiment with keeping score–and there’s no better game to do it for than the All-Star Game.

Okay, so keeping score of this particular game can be considerably more complicated than the average game. Why? Because both teams will make numerous substitutions in an effort to get virtually every player onto the field. Back in 1990 (and until recently) All-Star Games in National League ballparks didn’t use the designated hitter. That meant even more lineup moves (including myriad double switches) to avoid having pitchers try to hit against the best of their counterparts. So, at least this is slightly less of a hassle than it used to be.

However, the All-Star Game offers some perks for a young scorekeeper in training. Here are some of them:

  1. The game itself is fun to watch, especially because all of the best players are playing.
  2. Keeping score forces kids to pay attention to the names of the players and familiarizes them with the best, the ones you should want them to emulate (on the field, anyway).
  3. It really doesn’t matter who wins the game (unless your child happens to care about home field advantage in the World Series).
  4. It’s fun to use the scorebook to predict who will win the game’s MVP award, something that isn’t awarded in other games.
  5. It’s a more memorable experience than keeping score of game 74 of a team’s 162 game regular season schedule!

Of course, the main point isn’t to train kids how to keep a great scorebook. Rather, it’s about getting them to enjoy the game itself, learn more about it, and hopefully improve their own performance.

Keeping score of the All-Star Game became an annual tradition for me all the way up to college. I can even remember a game in my early 20s when a good friend drove an hour from out of town to visit so that we could watch and score the game together. That was my first time doing so electronically, on my laptop. He used the good old-fashioned paper method. And, if only for nostalgic purposes, that’s what I suggest you teach your children to do. (But that doesn’t mean you can’t easily print a scorecard from the web!)

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