SABR Official Scoring Committee: Summer 2016 newsletter

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

Summer 2016, Volume 1, Number 2

Past newsletters


Stew Thornley

We had 29 people at the first meeting of the Official Scoring Committee at the SABR 46 convention in Miami. Our overall committee membership went from 69 (nice) before the convention to 87 after it.

The meeting in Miami was a chance to learn more about the members and what they do or have done related to scoring. Many have been official scorers in college or professional leagues; others are faithful scorekeepers at games they attend and some wanted to know the best way to mark a ground out on a shift (the ol’ 5-3 doesn’t really tell you where the ball was hit if the third baseman was shifted around the shortstop and on the right side of the infield).

The meeting also helped develop focus for the objectives of the committee, especially when one member asked what goals the committee had for the next year. Since the committee chair is usually a fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants type of fellow who likes to get rolling and make adjustments along the way, the chair was a tad stumped.

However, it did cause the chair to ponder the question, and a few thoughts popped up or out. My thought when starting the committee was to compile and organize a history of official scoring—who has done it, how has it changed, what scoring rules have been changed, what incidents have been notable for official scorers (such as those who have had to make a tough decision when a pitcher has taken a no-hitter into the late innings). You can find compilations related to a lot of these topics in the committee files, which can be accessed from the main committee page, and, of course, all members are invited to submit items for these topics when they come across them and are encouraged to dive in to them as a research project.

Another thought I had was to raise the overall stature and awareness of scorers. In the committee files is a folder for oral histories and articles written based on interviews of official scorers. We have recordings, some with transcripts, and articles in this section. These can be fun projects and anyone interested can contact me if you need help. Consider interviewing an official scorer in your area; I can get you contact information and also talk to the scorer in advance to pave the way a bit.

This is our second committee newsletter, and it contains an update on what’s new in the committee files along with another conundrum.

Hope you enjoy it.

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Conundrum of the Month (or Quarter or Whatever)
With Butts pitching and one out, Dailey singles. Jass relieves. Coholic hits a grounder to the shortstop, who fumbles it. The official scorer rules a fielder’s choice and E6. (The inclusion of fielder’s choice means that, if not for the error, a force out at second would have been made.) Jablome triples, scoring Dailey and Coholic. Hugginkiss and Glasscock strike out to end the inning.

Both Butts and Jass are charged with a run. One of the runs is earned and one unearned. Which pitcher is charged with the earned run and which with the unearned run?

See below for the answer.

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How Do You Do It?
As noted in the Howdy section of this newletter, a frequent question to official scorers is how to note if a player fields a grounder while playing in a different spot because of a shift, such as a 5-3 when the third baseman moved to the left side of the infield, around the shortstop and sometimes past the shortstop and second baseman.

The official scorer, on such a play, will merely mark it as 5-3 and, on the official sheet that is sent in to Elias Sports Bureau, will credit an assist for the third baseman and putout for the first baseman.

However, that doesn’t keep anyone from marking this in a more specific manner in her or his scorebook. How do you do it? And do you have ways of marking certain things, such as a single that is a ground ball, line drive, or fly ball?

Send me your responses, and I’ll share them in the next newsletter.

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What’s New?
Our Committee Files page has a lot of new stuff.

The Oral Histories and Interviews folder has these new contributions:

  • Mike Shalin interview by Bill Nowlin
  • Susan Fornoff article by Thornley
  • Ed Munson interview by Jon Leonoudakis
  • Bob Rosenberg by Bob Wood
  • Chuck Dybdal by Wayne Strumpfer (mp3 file)
  • Chaz Scoggins interview by Bill Nowlin

In the No-hitters and Milestones file, Jim Wohlenhaus came across the influence of the scorer in Max Lanier’s one-hitter, and a copy of the Boston Globe article is in the file. Also new in this file is a story on the recent 50-game hitting streak by Lynchburg’s Francisco Mejia and how the official scorer changed a call from error to hit to help him reach 50. 

In Links to Stories, check out:

Also, Retrosheet is now listing the official scorers in its box scores. Thanks to David Vincent, who has been leading the effort, Retrosheet has the official scorer listed for almost all games going back to the 2004 season.

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The Hardest Thing in the World
On ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption on August 15, 2016 Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser talked about Francisco Mejia’s hitting streak, which had ended at 50 the previous night after having been extended the night before that with a post-game scoring change by official scorer Malcolm Haley. Wilbon asked Kornheiser if he had ever been an official scorer for a major-league game.

Kornheiser replied, “No, I would have panicked. It’s the hardest thing in the world.

“I never did it. I didn’t want to do it, and I wouldn’t want to do it.”

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Conundrum Answer
Butts is charged with the earned run and Jass with the unearned run. This is the case even though Dailey, the runner allowed by Butts, scored the unearned run.

Rule 9.16(g) Comment says it is the intent to charge each pitcher with the number of runners he put on base, rather than the individual runners. The comment does not specifically cover an error that allows a lead runner, put on base by a preceding pitcher, to stay alive because of an error.

However, had there been no error (if Dailey would have been forced at second) and Coholic later scored, the run would be charged to Butts, not Jass. A fielder’s choice is an exchange of one runner for another, so the runner who remained (Coholic) would have still been the responsibility of Butts. Consider also that, of the two batters faced by the pitchers, Butts gave up a single while Jass induced a grounder that should have generated an out.

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Stew Thornley—(Chair and Newsletter Editor)
David Vincent—(Vice Chair)
Marlene Vogelsang—(Vice Chair)
Gabriel Schechter—(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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