SABR Official Scoring Committee: January 2022 newsletter

“You Called That a What . . . ?”
The Newsletter of the Official Scoring Committee
Society for American Baseball Research (SABR)


January 2022
Volume 7, Number 1

Past newsletters


Stew Thornley

From One of the Co-Chairs

Hi folks,

I got to a game at Target Field on January 1 that was almost as cold as an April Twins game. Unfortunately, the Twins weren’t playing—and not because of the lockout. It was the National Hockey League (NHL) Winter Classic in which the St. Louis Blues beat the Minnesota Wild 6-4. The temperature at puck drop was 5.7 degrees below zero (Fahrenheit), and it was 10 below when the game ended, the coldest NHL game in history. I would have rather been watching a baseball game (see below for a quote from Patrick Reusse, which echoes my thoughts) and hope that it will be back on schedule this spring.

For a variety of reasons (which I can explain if you’re really interested), I am having to step back from my duties as chair of this committee. Chris Phillips, an expert in this field, has been serving as co-chair, but we will need some one to step up and take charge to keep things going. I will maintain my interest in compiling information on the history of official scoring and collecting interesting tales related to it, and I hope some new blood will find some new directions for the group.

If you would like to talk more about getting involved, please contact me, Stew Thornley.

One of the things I’ve been interested in is non-males who have been official scorers in the majors. Until now, you’ve been able to count them on one hand if you’re not Mordecai Brown. You probably know the story of Eliza Green in the 19th century and Susan Fornoff in the 20th century. More recently, Marie-Claude Pelland-Marcotte was an official scorer for Toronto Blue Jays games. Another woman, Jillian Geib, joined the ranks in 2021.

Jillian, who has worked for Major League Baseball (MLB) in other roles, including as a Gameday datacaster, made her debut June 1 for the Texas at Colorado game, which went 11 innings with the Rockies winning 3-2. Jillian has not only performed well as a scorer, she has handled the media attention that came with it:

Almost Cooperstown: MLB Official Scorer Jillian Geib

Geib Makes Female Official Scorer History

In the article, Jillian said of being a female official scorer, “I won’t be the last.” She is correct. In 2022, you are going to need more than one hand to count the women who are MLB scorers:

MLB’s Official Scoring University Creating a Pipeline to Add More Diversity into Role

What else is going on? Bob Webb in Pittsburgh was the unlucky person to be in the hot seat for this fusternuck of a play last May, which you probably saw replayed more times than you’ve watched Earl Weaver and Bill Haller exchange pleasantries (NSFW):

This Is Definitely the Worst Play I’ve Ever Seen in a Baseball Game

Bob handled the situation with aplomb and exactly as an official scorer should. He contacted Elias Sports Bureau and sorted it out with the experts there. After first considering a fielder’s choice and run batted in for Javier Baez, along with an advancement error on catcher Michael Perez for allowing Baez to continue to second on the play, Bob and the Elias crew decided on an error for Will Craig, the first baseman, with an assist to third-baseman Erik Gonzalez (as well as the E2 for the advancement of Baez from first to second).

An issue determined in this is there was no longer a fielder’s choice in the usual sense in that Willson Contreras, who was on second, had already advanced to third and was then trying to stretch that. It’s a matter of combining 9.05(b)(3), which addresses a preceding runner advancing one base or returning to his original base, and 9.05(b)(4), which does not address the matter of a preceding runner already advancing a base.

I’ll leave you with this cogent observation from Patrick Reusse of the Minneapolis Star and Tribune, overheard in the Metrodome press box in the midst of a April 21, 2003 game in which the Twins were beaten by the Yankees 15-1: “As bad as this is, it still beats any hockey game I’ve ever been to.”


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Conundrum of the Month (or Quarter or Whatever)

How can a starting pitcher be credited with a win without pitching at least five innings?

Answer below

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Henny Honored in Baltimore

In a career that spanned eight different decades in Baltimore sports — including as a writer and official scorer — Jim Henneman was honored by the Orioles last season. A copy of the lineup card for Jim’s last game as official scorer was framed and now is displayed in the Oriole Park press box. Jim (second from right) posed with official scorers Dennis Hetrick (far left) and Jason Lee (far right) along with the Orioles public-address announcer, Adrienne Roberson.

Dennis Hetrick, Adrienne Roberson, Jim Henneman, and Jason Lee


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Bloops and Bobbles

Committee member Bill Nowlin interviewed Boston official scorer Bob Ellis last year. The transcript is available in our committee files under Oral Histories and Interviews and directly at Interview with Bob Ellis on September 8, 2021.

Here is an interesting article about SABR member Mark Miller, an official scorer for the Dayton Dragons: Baseball Lifer Overcomes Stroke to Work as Official Scorer for Dragons.

Check out this article from the June 25, 1966 The Sporting News (also available to all SABR members through Paper of Record):

Taking the Bugs Out of Box Scores

(Click image to enlarge)


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Conundrum Answer

Rule 9.17(b) states, “If the pitcher whose team assumes a lead while such pitcher is in the game, or during the inning on offense in which such pitcher is removed from the game, and does not relinquish such lead, is a starting pitcher who has not completed (1) five innings of a game that lasts six or more innings on defense, or (2) four innings of a game that lasts five innings on defense, then the Official Scorer shall credit as the winning pitcher the relief pitcher, if there is only one relief pitcher, or the relief pitcher who, in the Official Scorer’s judgment was the most effective, if there is more than one relief pitcher.”

A starter getting a win without going five is rare, but it happened last season, when San Diego played at Cincinnati on June 30, 2021. Joe Musgrove started for the Padres and was relieved by Tim Hill to begin the last of the fifth with San Diego leading 7-5. Hill pitched a scoreless inning, and the game was called by rain with one out in top of the sixth. Since San Diego did not take the field in the bottom of the inning, Musgrove was credited with the win and Hill with the save.

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Chris Phillips—(Co-Chair)
Stew Thornley—(Co-Chair and Newsletter Editor)
Marlene Vogelsang—(Vice Chair)
Gabriel Schechter—(Vice Chair)
Bill Nowlin—(Vice Chair)
Sarah Johnson—(Vice Chair)
John McMurray—(Vice Chair and Liaison to the Oral History Research Committee)
Art Mugalian—(Assistant to the Traveling Secretary)

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