Tag Archives: How to Score Baseball

Scoring the Old Fashioned Way ~ Paper and Pencil!

Book Review

“HOW TO SCORE BASEBALL, Advanced Edition” By Robert Bulka

This is a comprehensive, well-written book that could easily have been titled “Everything you always wanted to know about scoring a baseball game, but were afraid to ask.”   It’s been years since I’ve scored a game but I wasn’t the least bit daunted in reading the book. I mean how many things could have changed in the last few decades?  A hit’s a hit, a ball’s a ball and a run’s a run.  Well to start with a hit isn’t necessarily a hit as Robert carefully points out in his score keeping basics.

Standard Baseball Scorecard

But this isn’t your ordinary book.  This is a book full of instruction and explanation that helps the reader understand “why” each entry must be carefully entered into a specific area on the scorecard.  It’s a how-to book that’s actually fun as I felt like a school kid learning something for the first time.  And actually I was, as I realized the method I’d learned to score back in the old days was the most basic of basics.  This is the real thing, as it gets into not only runs, hits and errors, but takes you into recording unusual situations such as the four strike-out inning, catcher’s interference and the double switch and much more.

“Scorekeeper photo courtesy of Google Images”

I’m an accountant by trade so one of the more interesting aspects of the scorekeeping was “Proving a Box Score”, or how to be sure your book is in balance so to speak.   But my favorite was the list of formulas the author included for calculating statistics.  If you’ve struggled with Sabermetrics this is a great primer for learning how the various percentages are calculated.

The book is available in Kindle and PDF format, but I’d really love to be able to read it in a regular book format also. The information available in this great little book is such a great resource I’d have the pages folded and yellow highlighting and post-its on every other page.

In case you’re not aware, you can download a Kindle book even if you don’t have a Kindle.  It can be downloaded to any PC, laptop and/or Kindle.

I’m aware there are a lot of electronic scoring systems out there, but to be honest I don’t see how you could become a very good scorer without understanding how and why you’re entering information in a specific place.  This will teach you to do that.

I really enjoyed this book and I’d recommend it to anyone who’s learning to score for the first time or for someone who just needs a refresher course.  Today my new score book arrived in the mail and I can hardly wait to settle in and begin practicing my new-found skills with Bulka’s handy little e-book by my side.

“How to Score Baseball”  is available for purchase through Amazon.com.


Baseball Stats 101~ Scoring the Four Strike-out Inning.

MLB Pitchers and Catchers report to Spring Training today and it seems like as good a time as any to get those score books out of the closet and settle in for a refresher course. Last spring I wrote an article about the 4 Strike-Out Inning and asked you if anyone knew how to score it. No one did, at least no one responded. Robert Bulka to the rescue! Robert’s written a book and several articles on how to go about scoring a ballgame and he’s generously offered to give us a lesson on the subject.  I love this stuff!

How To Score Baseball – The Four Strikeout Inning

It’s one of the most peculiar situations in all of baseball, a pitcher striking out four players in one inning. Not only is it an odd situation, it’s one of the rarer baseball situations you would record in a baseball scorebook.

The four strikeout inning occurs when a batter swings and misses on strike three but the catcher misses the ball. The batter then runs and reaches first base before being tagged out.

Two conditions must be met for a pitcher to strike out 4 batters in one innings: 1) with less than two outs there cannot be a runner on first base and 2) the catcher makes an error catching the third strike and the batter reaches base safely. Technically, a 4 strikeout inning could occur if a batter swings at a wild pitch on the third strike, and reaches base safely.

When scoring the 4 strikeout inning in a baseball scorebook, the pitcher is still credited with a strikeout, and an error is charged to the catcher (if the catcher missed the third strike “E2”) or the pitcher (if the third strike was a wild pitch “E1”).

This at-bat would be recorded as a “K” (swinging strikeout) and E2 (error on the catcher) in the scorebox of the batter.

So let’s take the situation where the first two batters in the inning strikeout swinging and the third batter strikes out swinging but reaches first base and the fourth batter strikes out swinging to retire the side.

1st batter: Jones strikes out swinging on 1 ball 2 strike pitch.

Write a “K” on the baseball scorecard to denote a strikeout swinging. In the top right hand corner enter “1” and circle it to denote the first out. The dots in the boxes represent the count on the batter at the end result of his at-bat.

2nd batter: Adams strikes out swinging. Write a “K” in the box to denote a strikeout swinging. At the top right had corner enter “2” and circle it, to denote the second out of the evening. Again, the dots represent the count when the batter struck out.

3rd batter: Smith swings at third strike but the catcher misses the ball and the he reaches first base safely. Write a “K” in the scorebook AND “E2” to denote that the ball passed the catcher; hence the reason for batter reaching 1st base safely. Draw a diagonal line from Home to First “/” to denote the batter reached first base. The dots represent the fact that he swung and missed on a full count (3 balls 2 strikes).

4th batter: Odom strikes out swinging: Write a “K” on the baseball scorecard to denote a strikeout swinging. Draw a diagonal the under the player at-bat box to denote he made the last out of the inning. The dots represent he struck out on an 0-2 pitch.

A Little History About the Four Strikeout Inning

The first Major League player to be credited with this rare feat was Ed “Cannonball” Crane of the New York Giants on October 4, 1888.

The last player to achieve this feat was Yovani Gallardo of the Milwaukee Brewers, who struck out four batters in the fifth inning of a game against the Cincinnati Reds on September 17, 2011.

There have been a total of 57 4 out innings recorded in MLB history, 24 in the American League and 33 in the National League.

A five strikeout inning has never been recorded in MLB. However, it has happened in the minor leagues 3 times; and you can even begin to count how many times it has happened in amateur baseball.

Written by: Robert Bulka, author of How To Score Baseball – Advanced Edition