Secret code? I love you? A well-played double play or the rare triple play?
It’s the eve of the Major League Baseball All-Star game. This game marks the midway point of the season and for me marks the “official” start of summer when my world turns to baseball; all levels of baseball, major leagues, minor leagues, local senior leagues and even my sons Little League. Simply, I “1-4-3 baseball”, the SMM text code for “I Love You”, but it is also the way I can recall that critical 5th inning double play that changed a ball game. “1-4-3” is part of a “code” used in enjoying baseball beyond words, “keeping score” or “scoring”.
Baseball is divided into two worlds, those who keep score at a game and those who have not made the leap into the art of “scoring”. After learning how to score a baseball game in 1967 as young boy at Maple Leaf Stadium in Toronto, I realized how much more the game meant to me. “Scoring”, keeps you in the game from first pitch to the final out, recalling every play from batter to batter, inning-to-inning or even years down the road. “Scoring” a game is like keeping “instant replays” at your fingertips.
The baseball scoring “code” is rather easy to comprehend, yet for others it looks as complex as decoding nuclear physics. Every defensive position is assigned a number from the pitcher; number 1 to the right fielder number 9. Once a ball is hit into play you mark what happened within an intricate square on a scorecard; a fly ball hit to leftfield is marked F7, a groundball hit to the shortstop who throws it to first base before the runner reaches is scored 6-3 . Strikeouts are defined by type; a swing and a miss is a K, batter caught looking is scored with a backwards K. Every play is recorded. Knowing the “code” even makes watching (yes watching) baseball on the radio more of a pleasure.
It’s summer; you might find yourself at the ballpark, why not pick up a scorecard and see how you like it. But I warn you, scoring a ball game can be habit forming.