Note the “Hit” and “Error” indicators in the sign; click to enlarge
I was recently watching a ballgame on TV. At one point a batter hit a grounder that sent the shortstop deep into the hole, where the ball clanked off his glove. And that’s when I heard the broadcaster say those familiar words: “We’ll see how they score it.”
We’ve all heard baseball TV and radio broadcasters say that, or something like it, when referring to the official scorer: “We’ll see how they score it,” or “They’ve charged an error to Smith,” or “He’s been charged with an error,” or even “Very generous scoring there.” The one constant in these phrases is that the official scorer is rarely if ever identified by name.
And when you think about it, that’s pretty weird. If you’re going to mention a person several times per game, as is often the case with the official scorer, why not identify that person? It’s particularly odd when you consider that the broadcasters know who the scorer is (it’s usually a local sportswriter) and are often personally acquainted with that person. Moreover, the umpires are routinely identified by name, so why not the scorer? It would provide another window into the game’s inner workings.
I mentioned this recently on Twitter and was surprised by the amount of pushback I got. Here are some of the most common responses, and my counter-responses:
They don’t mention the scorer’s name because nobody knows who that person is. The name wouldn’t mean anything to anyone.
I think that gets it backwards. The scorer’s name doesn’t mean anything to us because they don’t say it on the air, not the other way around. Think of it this way: If they didn’t identify the umpires, you wouldn’t know who they were either. But they do identify the umps at the start of every game, and as a result we all know the names Joe West, Angel Hernandez, Laz Diaz, Doug Eddings, and so on.
Of course they identify the umps — they appear on TV. But we never see the scorer, so it makes sense not to identify him.
There are other people we never see on TV who are sometimes identified by name during a broadcast — the P.A. announcer, the organist.
Also: On the radio, we don’t see anyone (not even the players!), but the same protocol holds true — they identify the umps but not the scorer.
Also-also: While MLB broadcasters routinely identify all of the umps, compare that to an NFL game, where they often identify the referee but not the other members of the officiating crew. Can you name a single NFL back judge, side judge, down judge, umpire, etc.? I can’t, and I’m betting you can’t either. They probably should identify them — they have a huge impact on the game — but they don’t. As far as I can tell, there’s no real reason for this except that it’s just the way they do things.
Similarly, not naming the official scorer in a baseball game seems to be just the way they do things. But that doesn’t mean it has to be that way or should be that way.
They probably don’t name the scorer to protect his privacy, so fans can’t harass him if they don’t like his decisions.
That doesn’t make sense. If you’re identifying the umpires, who have a much greater impact on the game (and are routinely derided by fans), why protect the scorer’s identity?
There you go, you just said it yourself — the scorer has no impact on the game’s outcome, so who cares?
It’s true that the scorer has nothing to do with the game’s outcome (i.e., which team wins and loses), but scoring decisions can still affect who wins the batting title, whether a pitcher gets a no-hitter, whether a hitting streak continues, and, in some instances, which pitcher is credited with the victory. So the scorer can actually have a big impact.
But that’s just bookkeeping. The scorer has no impact outside of statistics.
Oh, come on. Saying that something baseball-related is “just about statistics” is like saying something food-related is “just about ingredients.” It’s part of the culture of the game!
Actually, some broadcasters, like the guys who do White Sox and Brewers games, and for some other teams, do identify the scorer.
That’s great to know! And it shows that there’s no reason why a broadcaster can’t name the scorer. It’s just a convention — one that I think should change.
For starters, players and teams often appeal scoring decisions to the league office and try to get them reversed. (Here’s the list of reversals for this season.) Personally, I’m interested in knowing if there are certain scorers whose decisions are successfully appealed more than others — the Angel Hernandez of scorers, so to speak. Similarly, are there some scorers who tend to charge more errors? Are there some who are more likely to charge a passed ball instead of a wild pitch? And so on. Identification leads to greater accountability and gives us a better sense of how the game works.
I was curious to learn more, so I contacted several MLB TV and radio broadcasters and asked them why they so rarely identify the official scorer. Some of them asked for anonymity, so in the interests of fairness I’m going to grant them all anonymity, starting with a guy I’ll call Broadcaster No. 1:
On our radio broadcast, we will identify our usual scorer at [our home ballpark]. He does about 75% of our home games and is very, very good. Takes it very, very seriously. So we will sometimes name him, usually to offer a compliment. The two or three guys who fill in for him are far less practiced and far less good, so I try and avoid the topic. Once or twice this year I may have said, “The usual scorer is out tonight,” almost as if to give a pass.
If I’m doing TV, I try and avoid the topic. Larger/broader audience that is probably a bit less “hardcore,” so I won’t dive into it the way I might on radio. For instance, the guy in [one particular city] is brutal and we regularly crush him on the radio, just because he’s clearly not professional about it. But if I were doing a game on TV there, I’d probably pass over the topic, unless it was something truly game-altering (no-hitter, cycle, something like that).
So why not name names? For one, I generally feel bad for these guys. MLB does a horrible job (in my opinion) of taking the position seriously. Now, in part, I’m sure that’s because teams and players regularly lobby to get calls changed. There were a couple of miserable calls earlier this year where I actually said, “That will be changed later.” It should probably happen even more often than it does.
Beyond that, though, here’s something I’ve said a hundred times the last couple of years: MLB should treat the official scorer as a legitimate piece of the gameday puzzle. Professionalize it. Don’t leave it up to the team to hire some random former PR or newspaper person from the town. Hire 20 or 30 (or whatever) really good people and travel them around the way umpires do. No ties or connections to the different organizations. Rotating through the country (or at least regions) just to show that we’re taking it a little more seriously. So again, I guess my main point is I blame the system more than I do the individual, which is the primary reason why I hesitate to call out someone by name.
Faaaaascinating. Okay, here are some thoughts from Broadcaster No. 2:
Why don’t I name them? Basically because nobody cares or ever heard of most of these scorers anyway. I will usually mention the scorer’s name in [our home city] because I know them, but even then I only do that when there’s a controversial decision.
I explained to this broadcaster that we would learn the scorers’ names if broadcasters said them on the air. He said he’d think about it.
Moving on, here’s Broadcaster No. 3:
You’re right in the sense that it is an odd broadcaster crutch. Typically we will name the scorer if the person is somewhat known. For example, Howie Karpin in New York or Bob Rosenberg in Chicago. The former Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik scores sometimes in Pittsburgh. Other than that, the only reason I can think of is that the person doing it is so unknown that naming them almost files under useless info. There are no identifying characteristics to an “official scorer” so the blanket title works well enough.
Frankly, I think we should identify the replay umps, too. We know which crew is working on replay for the week, so I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t refer to them by name when a replay occurs.
Anyway, hope that makes some sense, and maybe I can do a better job naming the scorer in the future!
Totally agree regarding the replay umps — they should be identified as well.
Here’s Broadcaster No. 4:
I do ID the scorer a fair amount. I think mainly it’s laziness why scorers’ names aren’t mentioned a ton. And the name doesn’t mean anything if people don’t know who it is, I suppose. But it’s a good point.
My point is simple: If the scorer is worth mentioning, he’s also worth identifying. I’d love to see more broadcasters do that.
One final thought about scoring: It’s often stated as a trusim that the scorer is always a “homer,” basing his decisions on whatever will help the home team. But most scoring decisions are two-sided coins.
Take, for example, the situation I described at the outset of this blog entry — a difficult play for the shortstop. Let’s say the batter was on the home team. If that play is scored a hit, it’s good for a home player (the batter, whose offensive stats will go up), but it’s also good for a road player (the shortstop, who won’t be saddled with an error). If it’s scored an error, that’s bad for those same two players, but it’s good for the pitcher, because the batter-runner now represents an unearned run. When you look at it that way, it’s hard to find a scoring decision that’s purely “homer”-based.
Okay, that’s enough from me. Discuss!
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Look who Gets It™: Who’s that wearing our Naming Wrongs shirt for Archbold Stadium in Syracuse? None other than lifelong Syracuse resident Judy Laffer, whose first husband, the late John Seketa, played and coached for the Orangemen back in the day.
Judy’s shirt was a gift from longtime Uni Watch reader/supporter Max Weintraub, who’s good friends with her daughter (and received her permission for me to share this photo). Nice!
If you want to look as sharp as Judy, the Archbold shirt is here, and the full Naming Wrongs Shop is here.
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Look who else Gets It™: People are starting to receive their Uni Watch gumball helmets! Reader Thomas Tell sent this photo showing that his Uni Watch helmet fits in nicely with his various Giants helmet. Granted, the sight of a Uni Watch item in such close proximity to a Yankees item is a bit nervous-making, but I’ll let it slide this time.
Speaking of gumballs: I’ll be discussing gumball helmets at 11:17am today on 96.9FM/740AM The Game in Orlando.
If you want to order your own Uni Watch gumball helmet, full details on that are available here (and remember, each one now comes with a free Uni Watch 20th-anniversary patch).
While we’re at it, here’s where you can get Uni Watch pennants, Uni Watch mini-helmets, our new Gold Circle cotton cap, and all the rest of our fine products. My thanks, as always, for your consideration.
’Skins Watch: An Ohio middle school has decided to keep its “Warriors” team name but change its logo from a headdress-clad Native American to a shield. … An Oklahoma high school will wear new uniforms tomorrow that salute the school’s ties to a local Native tribe (from Ryan Atkinson).
Baseball News: Did you know country singer Charley Pride played pro ball? Check him out in uniform (from Max Weintraub). … Unusual sight: Tigers OF Christin Stewart wears a double-flapped helmet with a C-flap (from Mike Engle). … ’Tis the season: Good article on the evolution of MLB champagne celebrations. … Great (but paywalled) article about the logistics of the Reds’ 29 uni combos this season (from several readers). … Speaking of the Reds, the pattern mowed into their infield last night looked a bit like the Portland Trail Blazers’ logo (from Kurt Rozek). … Okay, this is weird: The York Revolution’s catcher — not sure of his name — went sleeveless and bare-armed last night (from Marc Brubaker).
Football News: Not sure why they waited so long, but the Patriots have announced the three dates when they’ll be wearing their Color Rash alternates. … Lots of info here on Wisconsin’s and Northwestern’s fauxback uniforms. The two schools will play each other this Saturday. … An East Cleveland youth rec league team was left without its uniforms when a player’s mom’s car was stolen with the team’s uniforms in the car. … Love the massive “LSU” and “ND” end zone lettering from this 1971 game, hosted by LSU (from Griffin Smith). … Whiteout uni this week for Iowa State (from Chad Lehman).
Hockey News: You can now get suits and sports coats with NHL team logo linings. … Really, really good (but paywalled) article about the guy who’s been the Sabres’ equipment manager throughout the team’s entire 50-year existence (from Chris Chmura). … New uniforms for the St. Bonaventure club team (from Ryan McKenna). … New uniforms for the USHL’s Des Moines Buccaneers (from @trainFanForLife). … New uniforms for Michigan Tech (from Noah Lawrence). … The Hurricanes apparently have a locker with a “New Guy” nameplate (from Jerry Wolper). … Speaking of the ’Canes, G Anton Forsberg’s mask is still rather Blackhawks-themed. … And speaking of goalies, Coyotes G Antti Raanta is planning a series of Arizona wildlife-themed masks this season. The first one honors the rattlesnake (from Wade Heidt). … Whoa, not sure I’ve ever seen this old shot of Penguins D Duane Rupp wearing blue skates! (Big thanks to Jerry Wolper.)
NBA News: A possible new Knicks jersey appears to have leaked. … Cross-listed from the baseball section: The pattern mowed into the Cincinnati Reds’ infield grass last night looked a bit like the Trail Blazers’ logo (from Kurt Rozek).
Soccer News: All of these are from Ed Zelaski: New shirt
sponsor advertiser reportedly in the works for Nashville SC. … Looks like Celtic winger Jonny Hayes may have cut the collar off of his shirt. … Roma wore new NOB lettering last night as part of their ad agreement with tokidoki. … Widzew Łódź wore their white secondary shirt at home on Tuesday against Śląsk Wrocław in the Polish Cup.
Grab Bag: Why have a human being design a logo when you can get artificial intelligence to do it for you? (From James Gilbert.) … New logo for Paramount Animation. … New logo for 8K “ultra-HD” TVs. … Several thousand LAPD officers will be wearing “throwback” badges for the rest of the year in honor of the department’s 150th anniversary (from Hugh McBride). … Oh, for fuck’s sake: NASCAR now has ads on the entry and exit to pit road (from Alan Elwood). … Penn State women’s volleyball fans were asked to remain silent until the team scored its ninth point in last night’s game, as part of a promotion to raise awareness for International Week of the Deaf. The ninth point was chosen because one of the team’s players, Jonni Parker, who wears No. 9, is hearing-impaired (from William Yurasko). … Those of you who are obsessed with branding may be interested in my friend Rob Walker’s new article about how legacy brands — including my new employer, Sports Illustrated — are being acquired, instead of eliminated, by startups.
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What Paul did last night: Back in March I wrote an article about a Brooklyn guy who collects vintage police mug shots, and five years ago, over on Permanent Record, I wrote about a Scottish guy who collects old mug shots from a specific town in Pennsylvania. While I don’t collect old mug shots myself, I’m definitely fascinated by them.
So I was excited to attend an event last night at the Manhattan art space apexart, where they’re currently showing a mug shot exhibition. Last night’s event featured a screening of the 2014 documentary Mugshot (the Scottish guy was featured in it), followed by a panel discussion with the filmmaker, the exhibition curator, and two people featured in the movie.
The movie was sooooo good. Touched on all the important issues — photography, portraiture, privacy, ethics, criminal justice, art, history, etc. Really good stuff. Here’s the trailer:
Unfortunately, the full movie doesn’t seem to be available online anywhere, at least not that I can locate. Worth seeking out if you can find it!
Gotta say I’ve always loved the convention of stealthily lighting an “e” or an “h” on a scoreboard sign. Something you can point out to a baseball neophyte and they think it’s clever and awesome.
At Camden Yards it’s the ‘H’ and ‘E’ in the “THE SUN” sign atop the scoreboard. I do love pointing that out to people.
Ah, didn’t know that. Would have used a photo of that, instead of the Shea photo, if I had known.
At Globe Life Park in Arlington it is (for four more games anyway) the Southwest Airlines ad in left center field. The H and E change colors when a ruling is issued.
For some reason, I thought the scoreboards with Ballantine ads would light up the “It’s a hit” slogan whenever something was scored as a hit instead of an error.
Charlie Pride in a baseball uniform made my day. I had no idea! Also, the LAPD throwback badge gimmick is a great idea.
On official scoring, my pet peeve is the way most broadcasters treat the official scoring decision as an objective definition of what happened, rather than a subjective description of how one person judged what happened. Broadcasters frequently say things like “change that to an error if you’re scoring at home.” Hogwash! If you’re scoring a game and you see it as a hit, it should stay a hit on your scorecard. Your goal as an individual scorekeeper is to record the game you saw, not to create a facsimile of the official scorer’s scorecard.
On that last note, do teams or the league make the official scorer’s scorecard available anywhere? Someone should.
Your goal as an individual scorekeeper is to record the game you saw, not to create a facsimile of the official scorer’s scorecard.
So if there’s a full count and you think the next pitch is a few inches outside, but the ump calls it a strike, should you score it as a walk, instead of a strikeout? After all, that’s “the game you saw.”
Not trying to play gotcha. Genuinely curious to hear your answer!
(Personally, I don’t think there’s any right or wrong way to keep score, as long as it makes sense to you. But I think the “goal” of scorekeeping, as you’ve just defined it, is not a definition that everyone would agree with.)
I don’t want to weight in on whether to record a hit or an error, but a strikeout did happen on the field in your example. The umpire is the arbiter of called strikes and balls. What he says goes. The official scorer is determining how to record the events on the field. The umpire can be wrong about a pitch, and you can be right about that same pitch from your seat, but what the umpire says determines the call on the field. There is no confusion about the umpire’s judgment, and that’s what the scorer should record. The umpire is silent as to whether a batted ball is a hit or an error, so the responsibility of determining what happened then rests with the scorer.
There’s a difference between what he proposed and what you discussed. There are decisions (ball versus strike, safe versus out) that affect how the game plays out, and decisions (hit versus error) that don’t affect how the game plays out, only how its recorded.
Its like a penalty in hockey – you can discuss whether a two minute penalty should have been a trip or a hook, but it only matters to the stats (if at all).
I sort of get it. If you’re keeping your own scorecard, the point isn’t just to duplicate the official scorer’s record of the game, its to actually keep score yourself. Its not what I would do (if I were inclined to keep score) but I get it.
I fully grasp the distinction, Mike. I was just taking the “game that you see” dictum to its logical conclusion.
My larger point is that I think many fans keep score not to document the “game that they see” but to document the game as it is officially scored — to create an unofficial record that matches or mirrors the official record. I would never say that anyone *has* to do it that way (like I already said, I don’t think there’s any right or wrong way to keep score, as long as it makes sense to you), but I think the notion that of an all-purpose blanket dictum about the proper role/approach/etc of how one keeps score is a dicey one, and that the particular dictum presented in RS’s original tweet is one that many fans — and, I suspect, *most* fans — would not agree with.
I don’t think that is a logical conclusion. Balls and strikes are called on the field, and the call affects the play of the game. It’s one thing to note disapproval of the call, but the result is either an out or a walk on a decisive pitch, and the scorebook would make no sense if one awarded a walk when a strikeout was called. That runner did not reach base, is not on base, and cannot affect the actual play of the game. Personally, I always note when a count reaches 0-2, 3-0, or 3-2, but I will use chess notation (?! Or !!) if I think the ump’s call was outrageous or questionable. Just as I use a $ to note what I see as exceptional defensive plays. I’ve even used that notation to sort of make an exception on error calls: good middle infielders in particular sometimes have the range to reach balls that players of average skill wouldn’t touch, so while technically it’s an error if they bobble the ball, if reaching the ball and thus putting themselves in position to commit the error was the result of exceptional skill, I’ll mark both a $ and an E.
Anyway, I don’t see ball/strike calls as akin to hit/error calls. Score the game you see, but the game you see includes the ump’s decision on each pitch. If you just want a record of the official score, clip the box score from the newspaper the next morning.
When I was a senior in high school, the varsity team had to end practice early because the freshman team had a game that evening. I love keeping the scorebook so I stayed and did the book for the freshman game. When I got home, my dad asked how the game went….. I said, ” I have no idea how the actual game was, but I had a helluva game going in the book.” :)
Days like this are why I keep coming to this site. Great work.
Agreed. If you had pointed out that the official scorer is rarely named during a broadcast before today, I would have said, “why would anybody care about that?”
Now, at least I know. Not that I really care, but I know why some others might.
Wait, here’s one more thought on the subject: is the term “official scorer” redundant? Couldn’t the announcer just refer to him as “the scorer” with the audience being able to make the assumption that he wouldn’t be talking about an unofficial scorer? Do unofficial scorers even exist?
In college basketball, both teams can have a person at the table keeping a scorebook. The home team is the “official scorer.”
Just about every broadcaster and journalist is keeping score, and typically several employees of each team is keeping score, and of course hundreds of fans are keeping score. So there’s lots of scorekeeping going on for every game, but only one scorekeeper is recording the official record of that game that will go into the league’s records. So “official scorekeeper” is not, to my mind, redundant. Almost, but not quite.
Well, I’ll be damned.
I guess it just never occurred to me to go to a sporting event and actually keep score myself, seems easier to just let the official guys do it.
I agree. This was a totally interesting post about something I’ve never thought about, but has always been relevant. Talking to the broadcasters took it to a whole different level.
phrase of the day (from a linked article) “he and another teammate were once traded for a used bus”
Woah, “Playboy Bunnies Game” as shown in the first photo doesn’t sound like a promotion that would fly today…
Ha I saw that too! Was surprised Paul didn’t mention it. Too funny.
Speak for yourself. :D
Re: Duane Rupp – Blue Skates, I think this has been discussed previously, but that was a bit of a trend in the early 70’s. Oakland with their Green and yellow skates, the Blues I’m pretty sure toyed around with Blue and yellow, and the Penguins. I also thought, but easily could be wrong, the Kings may have worn purple (forum blue) skates briefly. I know my pee-wee hockey team (similar era), one player had orange on his skates
Yes, this happened in 70-71 concurrent with the Seals wearing both green skates with yellow trim and vice versa, however the Penguins and Blues experiment lasted only a few games.
There have been several photos of both of those teams circulating but this is the first time I’ve seen the Rupp one. In fact, there’s a pic where the Blues and Pens played and both wore the colored skates in the game!
The Kings wearing colored skates gets occasionally mentioned but I have never seen photographic or news article evidence to support that…
It was 70-71 when the Seals had green skates with yellow trim and vice-versa, however the Blues and Penguins’ experiment lasted only a few games. They even played each other once during this time, I’ve seen at least one pic of that.
There are several pics out there of both teams but this is the first time I’ve seen the Rupp one.
I’ve heard rumors of the Kings having colored skates but have never seen photographic or new article evidence to support it.
I remember sports writer Red Foley being the official scorer of the World Series in the Nineteen-Sixties. He must have done Yankee games, too, because I seem to remember Rizzuto would whine out Foley’s name if he didn’t agree with a hit/error decision.
In the early ’70s – decades before you could access Internet websites like Baseball Reference – Red Foley had a column in the NY Daily News called “Ask Red”, where readers could send questions about baseball facts and Red would research it and provide an answer. As a kid, I once sent him a question (I think it was something regarding the number of HRs Ted Williams hit at Yankee Stadium) and, even though it wasn’t printed in the newspaper, Red sent me a letter on Daily News letterhead with the answer. As a kid, I thought that was pretty cool.
I LOVED “Ask Red!” My dad and I used to read it together every time it appeared in the paper (all two paragraphs of it, or whatever it was).
As an aside, Foley’s bar on 33rd street off 5th ave in Manhattan is named after Red. Great baseball bar (though def a bit cluttered!).
Brooklyn Pete, may I ask why you wrote out Nineteen-Sixties instead of using 1960’s (or 1960s)?
Great article, Paul. Since you kept your broadcasters anonymous, so will I.
The broadcasters I listen to often mention the official scorer in the home ballpark by name and will occasionally mention the scorer’s name when the team is on the road. They also let the fans know if they disagree with the scorer and yes, will opine that the call will probably be reversed by the league.
What’s rare though, is if there is a controversial scoring call from a prior game that was reversed, they may mention that MLB reversed the original scoring. However–and this goes to what I think is your overall point–when that happens, they NEVER mention the scorer’s name. Contrast that with this: How many people know the umpire Jim Joyce by name? I would say most who watched baseball in the years following his 2010 blown call that cost Armando Galarraga a perfect game. We love making umps villains. To wit, remember the Jim Joyce blown call in the 2012 game pitched by Johan Santana? There are replays clearly showing the ball hit by Beltran that was ruled foul by the umpire hit the chalk. Can you remember who the ump is? I had to look it up. Adrian Johnson.
It doesn’t have to be Uni-Related to be a great article. Thought and discussion-provoking is what I as an everyday reader look forward to hear on UW.
I think a good comparison can be made between MLB’s official scorer and basketball’s official scorer. If they weren’t wearing black and white stripes at the scorer’s table, no one would know who they are except the officials. But let something go wrong with that scorebook and, hoo boy. A foul to the wrong player here, a basket missed for the wrong team there, and well that could make a big difference. Another comparison may be the NFL down marker crew. They are considered part of the game’s officiating crew, and nobody knows who they are. Not the same level of impact as the official scorer, but still very important to the game. Great article, lots of food for thought.
As I read that first broadcaster response, Howie Rose’s voice kept popping into my head because that’s exactly the kind of thought-out response I’d expect him to give.
Clearly not Howie Rose, since the person in question refers to working both radio *and* TV.
It’s the response that most closely represents how I wish every broadcaster would think about the question. Great lead today!
In most sports we do not see the official scorer, but in NCAA basketball we usually do. The person wearing the striped shirt at the sideline table is keeping the official scorebook. Broadcasts will often name the 3 on-court referees, but never the scorer.
And in basketball, the official scorer is literally part of the refereeing crew. If something happens that the 3 officials on the floor do not see, they can go to the official scorer and ask for help. This only really needs to happen at the high school level where there is no replay capabilities.
And in Division II and III. I was the official scorer when I attended a D3 school (no striped shirt, though). The main interaction I had with the on-court referees was informing them when a player had fouled out of the game. They never asked for on-court help during my 4 years.
The official scorer, the visiting team’s scorer and the scoreboard operator usually work together to ensure accuracy. If there is a dispute that cannot be resolved, the official scorebook is the final answer.
About the Penn State Silent Set from the Grab Bag …
Here in Green Bay, East and West high schools have a Silent Night basketball doubleheader every winter. In both the girls’ and boys’ games, the crowd stays silent until one team reaches 10 points. Then it gets loud. The Silent Night doubleheader is a big deal, raising money for a program for homeless students.
not exactly proofreading, but… I’m close friends with Judy’s daughter. I knew her son, too, but it’s her daughter I went to SU with.
My bad, Max. Will fix!
I have always thought that the official scorer in baseball should be an employee of MLB, or the league in the minors. A sport that is so wedded to statistics should have a dispassionate observer recording them. In the same way, clock operators in timed games such as football, basketball or hockey should be employed by the leagues, not the home team or arena.
Copy editor alert: The former Mariners GM who occasionally is the official scorer in Pittsburgh is “Jack Zduriencik.”
I went to a small D-III college and was an intern for the SID. One year, our baseball team got to move one of our games to a nearby AAA ballpark. The SID was busy with other things, so he made me the official scorer for the game. I got to go up to the pressbox and sit next to the announcer and the scoreboard operator. We even had a close play that came down to my decision as Hit or Error. As I was contemplating my decision, I looked over and the announcer and scoreboard operator were both staring at me, waiting on my decision.
LSU routinely painted end zones for the visitors (like your shot in the 1971 game against Notre Dame) until the late ’70s. And they had the big LSU end zones and variations of that until the ’90s, resurrected it again in the early 2000s before dropping them for good in 2005.
Even though I loved him growing up, one of the reasons I grew to hate Hawk Harrelson as the White Sox play by play guy was his constant hatred of any perceived bad call by any other teams official scorer. As much as stats are ingrained in baseball, having a hit be called an error isn’t that big of a deal; it didn’t stop the guy from reaching base, move along, it’s a long season and it will all even out. On the flip side, any call made by Rosenberg at home was clearly perfect. So irritating.
I’m going from memory here, but I seem to remember a controversy a bunch of years ago where a local sportswriter who was also official scorer gave a very egregious error late in a game to keep a no-hitter alive for the home pitcher (it was broken up a batter or two later) and a few newspapers banned their writers from acting as scorer because they didn’t want their guys to be in the middle of that sort of thing again.
I know you say above that scorers are usually a local sportswriter – I wonder if those policies for certain papers are still around.
This was the game. The scoring controversy is mentioned, and the second article talks about the change in policy on sportswriters being scorers
“Sports editors throughout the country recognized the conflict of interest inherent in allowing their reporters to score games and accelerated the process that has virtually eliminated reporters as scorers.”
Different media outlets have different policies. The NY Times, e.g., won’t let its writers vote for the Cy Young, MVP, etc., because it creates a conflict of interest, and I believe they’re not permitted to vote for the Hall of Fame either (not 100% positive on that last one).
“We need to out scorekeepers so I can keep track of who is the worst and then shame them”
“Also…I’m protecting the names of my broadcaster friends because they asked for anonymity”
HMMMMMMMMMMMM…maybe scorekeepers ask for anonymity Paul…do you think with more than two brain cells when it comes to stuff like this?
Actually, I never said I wanted to shame anyone. But I think accountability for one’s professional work is generally a good thing. I would want to call out good scorers just as much as bad ones. But there’s no way to do either of those things if we don’t know who the scorers are.
Journalism sometimes necessitates the use of anonymous sources, as was the case here. The broadcasters were not speaking while on the clock or on the job (i.e., not in their professional capacities) but as a favor to me. Many of them are bound by rules set by their employers, which prohibit them from speaking publicly about stuff like this. I could have just not quoted them at all, but I felt the piece was much stronger with their voices because of the insights they provided.
I agree it would have been even better if I could have named them, but there were good reasons not to do so. There is no good reason not to name an official scorer. (And my reporting did not turn up any instances of a scorer requesting anonymity from broadcasters. As already noted in the piece, some broadcasters *do* name the scorer.)
Your first example of why you need to know the names was so you can identify who is usually awful…”Personally, I’m interested in knowing if there are certain scorers whose decisions are successfully appealed more than others — the Angel Hernandez of scorers, so to speak.”
Nobody talks about good scoring. They only complain about the bad.
We need to protect people’s privacy, not out and shame people.
So I gather that you would also support not naming the umpires? While we’re at it, should we not name the players? Anyone else whose privacy you’d like to protect at the expense of accountability?
I note that you don’t list your full name when commenting, and you also register your comments under a phony email address. At least you practice what you preach, so I’ll give you that.
Gonna have to charge you with an error for the unnecessary hostility, Chris.
NASCAR selling ad space for anything, be it visual or audio, is not surprising. As a longtime fan, you just learn to ignore it.
The number of NASCAR ads has actually decreased on the cars themselves the last 10-15 years.
Meanwhile, the NBA and NHL continue to add ads, pretty much every where possible…NBA courts, NBA aprons of courts, behind the goal line on the ice…
Ahh…the Charlotte Roval is getting a jump on Pinktober(Pinktember?) with their annual pit wall paint job, which I consider a de facto ad for Susan G Komen.
When I wrote for USA Today Sports Weekly, there was a play in Atlanta where Adam LaRoche was slow to handle the ball and make a play at first. The official scorer charged an error, which helped keep an Atlanta pitcher as the league-leader in ERA.
I looked up the rule on errors and there’s a comment on slow play (9.12(a)1). I emailed another scorer to get his (anonymous) opinion. He agreed with me that you don’t charge an error when someone fields the ball cleanly but is reacts too slowly to get to the bag. I wrote an item about the play, quoting the rule and pointing out the situation.
The day it came out, the scorer called my editor and I got yelled at. Even though my sources and some colleagues backed me up and agreed that the play should not be an error, I was forced to print a retraction/apology.
Also, last week in Boston there was a tough play scored an error. Took a hit away from a Red Sox player. Both Jerry Remy and Dennis Eckersley thought it should be a hit and talked about it at length. Then they decided to go do something about it and Remy went to talk to the scorer between innings. He came back and reported that the scorer disagreed with them but would take another look.
I am pretty sure they mentioned him by name. I don’t remember hearing if the call was eventually changed or not.
What was the supposed basis for making you issue the retraction/apology?
Basically it was to satisfy the guy making the complaint and to get me out of my editor’s office. It was a tiny item in an afterthought publication, so my editor (the Sports Editor at USA Today at the time) didn’t have the time or inclination to defend me. The scorer’s opinion is what mattered in the end, so even though I thought his decision made no sense, I wasn’t in a position to argue.
Also, to be fair, I could have done a little more research and reached out to him for comment. The section I wrote had some latitude for opinion/analysis, but it is easy to argue that I could have put a little more legwork into the item to make it more complete. I would suggest that him complaining about it called more attention to it, but what do I know?
Don’t know if he’s one of your four guys you spoke to, but Pat Hughes regularly names the scorer at Wrigley (though his name escapes me at the moment) in part because the Internal PA Mic can often be heard on the broadcast, and this particular scorer often repeats his decision with some unique vocal inflection (WILD pitch, WILD pitch) and it cracks up the entire booth.
Bob Rosenberg is the WILD pitch guy you mention. He works for both Chicago teams, which I assume means there’s also a backup guy…
I remember a game many years ago where Ivan Rodriguez got on base on what was ruled an error. He did not agree with that ruling, to say the least. He started yelling at the scorer (between innings, I think, or maybe when time was called while he was on base?), and the TV cameras actually panned up to show the scorer.
He later hit a home run and after he crossed home plate, he spiked his helmet, pointed at the scorer, and yelled at the scorer some more. Again the TV cameras panned up to show the scorer.
So there’s an example of the scorer becoming part of the story and de-anonymized.
To continue an awful argument from Paul, where he said “So I gather that you would also support not naming the umpires? While we’re at it, should we not name the players? Anyone else whose privacy you’d like to protect at the expense of accountability?”
No one goes to the ballpark to watch the scorekeeper keep score. The scorekeeper is peripheral. He’s there to keep stats for sportswriters, agents, and GMs. There literally is no reason why the source of the stats needs to be named.
And yep…I don’t put my full name on here because last time I did, you sent me unsolicited emails that were rude and unnecessary.
No one goes to the ballpark to watch the scorekeeper keep score.
Ah, now you’ve moved the goalposts and changed your argument. What you’re now saying is that you don’t care who the scorer is. And that’s fine — you don’t have to care (just as some fans probably don’t care who the umps are). But some fans, myself included, *do* care. And I think if the scorer is worth mentioning multiple times per game, he/she is also worth identifying. Simple as that.
Also, contrary to your assertion, I for one think it would be *fascinating* to watch the scorer at work. I wish some TV broadcast would do that.
We’ve now reached the “I think X but you think Y” point, which means it’s time to agree to disagree and move on. Thanks.
“Granted, the sight of a Uni Watch item in such close proximity to a Yankees item is a bit nervous-making, but I’ll let it slide this time.”
Remind me never to show Paul the hatrack where my UW alternate hat proudly hangs.
As the guy who took that photo, I can assure you that my Uni Watch cap resides directly alongside my Yankee cap too. :D
It’s funny Duane Rupps’ blue skates were mentioned as I am in the midst of reading Wayne Gretzky’s ’99 Stories of the Game’ book. There is a passage where he talks about how Charlie Finley tried to get the Golden Seals to wear white skates. The players hated those but ended up wearing colored skates (There was a Uni Watch article as well). He stated that the Red Wings even wore red ones but I’ve never seen a picture.
Charlie Pride has gone to Spring Training with the Rangers every year since they moved to Texas. He wears a uniform, throws the ball around, takes b.p. and is generally an awesome guy. I think that he even bought a small part of the team a decade or so ago.
Has there been any traction on re-creating the first mini helmet?
A bit, but not yet enough to hit the tipping point of re-doing it. Still hoping, though!
Are you able to tell us what the minimum is?
I only ask because our two public high schools merged this year, so I was wondering how much it would take to get mini helmets of our new helmet.
I’d have to double-check with Casey at Rocker T Collectibles, but I know it’s at least a dozen, or maybe 20, for it to be worth his while.
On the scorekeeper discussion, I think the simplest answer here is the easiest: the further in time and space from the action, the less connected to the events on the field, the less interest anyone has in knowing the person’s identity.
The scorekeeper is far from the field, never impacts actual play, and only comes into the discussion after the events on the field have occurred and while the game is already moving along into other events.
The grounds crew has a bigger impact on the actual action on the field, and while you might have the hear the head groundskeeper’s name occasionally mentioned, you don’t see their name announced with the starting lineups either.
I would counter that someone who is often mentioned multiple times per broadcast is, by definition, “connected to the events on the field.” If the scorer is worth mentioning, he/she is also worth identifying.
I get that there are plenty of explanations why the scorer *isn’t* identified. But an explanation is not the same thing as a justification, and nobody has yet provided a good reason why the scorer *shouldn’t* be identified. Indeed, some broadcasters already do this, so it’s not a crazy, outlandish notion. I just think it should be standard practice instead of a minority practice.
If the scorer is a a sports writer or someone helping out by doing scoring, yes he (or she) should remain anonymous. Yes, it is necessary to protect their privacy.
If MLB wants to change this and make the scorer a highly paid person exclusively doing the scoring, like an umpire, then go ahead and identify them.
Seems like you are lacking sensitivity on this issue. Do you want to be the first scorer publicly identified and let us know how that goes for you?
Happily! I mean, I’d have to go thru some sort of training first. But if the powers that be want to train me and then decide that I’m capable of handling the job, I have no problem with being identified.
I’m fine with accountability. That’s why my name is on everything I write, whether I’m paid for it or not.
I’ve broadcast Major and Minor League games since 1991 and I don’t ever recall identifying the name of the official scorer. Today’s discussion has opened my eyes. In the future, the scorers name will be tagged with the official scoring of the play.
Jerry, I should have thought to contact you along with the other broadcasters I got in touch with. Thanks for chiming in!
Regarding the scorers not being named discussion, I would add one more thing that Broadcaster #1 touched on a little bit. Sometimes the scorer is _not_ a professional in any sense of the word. Former sportswriters are occasionally scorers, but more and more often, teams hire someone who has an interest, goes through the training of it, and is willing to show up 65-70 days a year. The pay is crappy ($75 per game back in the late ’90s, $150 per game now, last I heard), and the pressure from PR staffs is ridiculous. When I worked as a stats guy for the wire service, I sat right next to the OS, and the team PR guys were constantly trying to nudge the scorer their way. It was rare for us to go more than about three games without hearing _somebody_ whine to the OS. I remember one team’s PR guy was so upset about an error call that he called the league president’s office during the game and yelled at that person over the phone! To its credit, the home team asked the visitors not to send that guy on a trip there again. Until around 2001, replays had to be requested over the in-house TV feed. After that, the scorer’s monitor was hooked up to a TiVo so they could view a replay immediately and come to a quicker decision. Sometimes the scorer would go ahead and make a decision, but also leave the park that night with the intent of speaking to someone at the league office in the morning for a possible change.
When I started in the biz, there were three scorers at our park: a retired writer, a former college coach, and a stathead who also ran crews for other sports. Now the stathead is the main guy, and the second scorer works with one of the local colleges. They’re both pretty good, and sometimes the average fan needs to remember that scorers are directed to err on the side of giving a hit if a play is at all questionable. I don’t envy those guys at all. Professionalizing it and making a set of guys that traveled around would be expensive, but not a bad idea, and would certainly make it more appealing.
“I’m interested in knowing if there are certain scorers whose decisions are successfully appealed more than others — the Angel Hernandez of scorers, so to speak.”
Of course, Angel actually ranks about average in replay overturns (and much better than some other significant but nowhere near as vilified umpires) but the fact the online harassment campaign pushing this false narrative of incompetence has been so successful rather supports the idea a good reason to keep their anonymity is that there’s no need to subject official scorers to similar pile ons.
I mean, I think the ideal is that we actually treat these people with respect and dignity for the work that they do, but if even our esteemed and generally fair minded blogger can’t resist the allure of an easy target I’m not optimistic.
I know of no “online harassment campaign” about Angel Hernandez (which doesn’t mean no such campaign exists, but I can assure you that it has had no effect on me). I have, however, heard quite a few broadcasters indicate that he is a below-average umpire, and I have seen his calls overturned many times myself (although I fully acknowledge that I have not kept a running tally of his, or anyone else’s, overturned calls, and it’s entirely possible that I may have some sense of confirmation bias regarding him).
If he actually stacks up as an average ump statistically, as you say, that is interesting, and I would like to learn more. I am not aware of where one can find such statistics. Would you be kind enough to point me toward them?
This is a good start:
That site is great for umpire stats, though not the most user friendly in my experience.
Amen Padday. Thanks for sticking up for treating umpires – and all officials – with respect and dignity. The job is not as easy as it looks on TV.
I may be remembering this wrong (someone else please chime in to refute or back up this claim), but I seem to remember NBC football broadcasts in the late 80s, early 90s identifying the entire officiating crew, not just the referee.
Yes, definitely. But at some point they stopped.
Anyone have footage of the Playboy Bunnies game referenced on the scoreboard? lol
Here is an article highlighting some of the specifics about the Twins official scorer from a few years back: link
Also… I can’t figure out a way to get a link to this, but on the “official” box scores that are distributed to Minor League teams after games the official scorer is in fact listed:
HBP : Rubalcaba (by Guasch).
Pitches-strikes : McIntyre 47-28; Guasch 44-33; Soriano 62-33; Robinson 15-11; Yan 53-36; Sykes 20-12.
Groundouts-flyouts : McIntyre 7-4; Guasch 4-1; Soriano 2-3; Robinson 1-1; Yan 3-1; Sykes 4-0.
Batters faced : McIntyre 15; Guasch 16; Soriano 16; Robinson 4; Yan 9; Sykes 7.
Inherited runners-scored : Robinson 3-0.
Umpires : HP: Adam Pierce. 1B: Pete Talkington.
Official Scorer : Terry Abrisz
Weather : 77 degrees, Clear
Wind : 10 mph, Out To RF
First pitch : 6:31 PM
T : 2:33
Att : 3,200
Venue : Community Field
August 27, 2019
I found this topic very interesting. I too am curious why people/names aren’t credited for their work. I teach English and always tell my students to cite their sources. It would be nice for broadcasters to do the same. (I am not implying plagiarism. I just say give credit.)
I imagine a reason (not justification) for the MLB identifying all their umps is that all umps take a turn behind the plate, and are thus the most “visible” ump every couple days. NFL crews serve in specific roles, and only the ref is “visible” (announcing calls) to the viewing audience.
LOVE today’s entry about scorers not being named. For the record (there is no record) I think they should be named! Same goes for Replay officials in football. Rarely do I ever hear them named (especially at the college level). Usually they are just referred to as “the replay official” or, if it’s an out of conference match up they’ll say “the replay officials are from the (enter conference name)”.
Also, regarding the Wisconsin and Northwestern fauxbacks, I wonder why they didn’t put “NWU” on the Northwestern jersey. That’s what the jersey’s in the picture provided had?
Retrosheet’s box scores from recent seasons list the official scorers!
northwestern is ONE word. That’s why they didn’t do NWU
Thanks for the link to the Penn State volleyball story. I shared it with my wife, who is an ASL interpreter, and she loved it. Deaf Week is off to a good start!
I have been keeping score since I was a young boy. As a 42 year old man with a seven year old son, whenever we go to a game we keep score. It is a lost art in my opinion, and definitely keeps the game from being “boring” as many people complain. It is almost like a puzzle unfolding in front of you. I don’t comment much in here, but I felt like your piece was spot on. I listen or watch Cleveland about 130 games or so a season (I live in NC), and honestly I can’t remember Tom Hamilton (radio broadcaster for Cleveland, which I usually sync with the TV broadcast) ever mentioning the scorekeeper. I am not saying that he doesn’t, I just don’t recall it. I am in agreement with you, they should. As important as statistics are for the game, MLB and the collective teams should treat the position with the modicum of professionalism any other position is treated with inside an organization.
May you, your family, friends, and everyone reading have a healthy and happy new year.
Two days in a row with a Mets vs. Expos picture leading off the post.
Wow — great point. And an amazing coincidence!
It’s just bookkeeping (and has no impact on who wins) is a legitimate reason why they don’t bother identifying the scorer.
Paul rebuttal of being part of the culture is odd for a piece where he’s advocating changing a long-standing culture.