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Scoring Baseball

Baseball is a game that, like chess, is built upon a progression of situational "moves" as well as upon the athleticism and fundamental skills of its players. For that reason, appreciation of the development of a game contributes a large part to the enjoyment of the spectator.

The system for scoring baseball developed by Henry Chadwick is known to be sublimely elegent for its compression of game information into an easily readable, and easily adaptable format, allowing scorers to keep a running diary of the game's progress and statistics for reference during and after the game.

The scorecards published for use in scoring, however, very often offend the eye with crude, heavy grids and obtuse relationships between groups of items. I wonder if you have found any scorecards to admire, or ever tackled the design for one yourself.

-- John Morse (email)

Can an expert post some scorecard examples here, ideally with a diversity of designs and historical reach?

-- Edward Tufte

A diversity of baseball scorecard examples, and an in-depth tutorial, can be found at Click on "gallery" for examples from various ballparks and leagues, ranging from MLB to youth girls' softball.

-- Mark Kasinskas (email)

When looking at baseball scoresheets, it's may be useful to keep in mind "Project Scoresheet", initially promoted by Bill James and taken up by some number of statisticians and historians to collect the data that they need.

Scoresheet was about data organization, not data presentation (in particular, the casual fan will find the notation cryptic). These scorecards were essentially forms to be filled in with text data, and are read the same way.

[pdf] Alex Reisner has an example, which has been glossed up a bit for commercial resale. It's blank, of course, so the layout is not obscured by the data.

-- Danil Suits

Thanks to Kindly Contributor Mark Kasinskas for the link to the variety of examples; some cards even track ball/strike counts.

-- Edward Tufte

The Joy of Keeping Score: How Scoring the Game Has Influenced and Enhanced the History of Baseball (1997), by Paul Dickson gives an enthusiastic but sparse account of the history of keeping score. There are several reproductions of marked and unmarked scorecards. The Amazon listing linked above gives access to Adobe PDF files of a few pages.

-- John Morse (email)

An interesting scorecard is at

The grid lines are too heavy. An excellent idea in this card is: "The first thing you are likely to notice is that there is not a separate column for each inning as there is in a traditional scoresheet. Having a separate column for each inning wastes space that can be put to more productive use. Instead each column represents one pass through the team's batting order. The start of each inning is indicated by a circled inning number in the plate appearance box"

For baseball buffs, see their home page: Perhaps there's some data for sparklines here.

-- Edward Tufte

I just want to respond to Danil Suits' post from July 18, 2003 and state that my scorecards are NOT for sale but are always available for free via download. Also, the above link is out of date, so try this one if you're interested:

Incidentally, I showed an old version of one of my scorecard designs to Mr. Tufte in person at one of his lectures in NYC a few years ago. On my site you will also find a redesigned Project Scoresheet scorecard and some other things that may be of interest to baseball scorekeepers.

-- Alex Reisner (email)

Just in case you are interested, you may want to check out for free daily printable scorecards with pre-filled lineups.

-- baseballcouch (email)

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