SUMMARY: I invented and published a different kind of baseball scorebook to better remember my son’s Little League games.
Playmaker Journals are about recording memories.
My son is like any other kid that is passionate about baseball.
He has struck out batters and walked some.
He has hit home runs and doubles and triples and singles and plenty of foul balls. And has struck out more times than I can remember.
He has scooped up grounders and made hold-your-breath catches in the outfield. And there were times when the grounders went between his legs and the long balls went over his head.
And I can barely remember much more than a few hazy details about those games. They all blurred together.
I don’t remember the dates of when it happened, who they played, what the final score was, or in some of the games, who even won. I just remember a few highlights here and there.
It’s shameful. I can’t even recall the basic facts of the games he played. And I’m a journalist, a guy hardwired to write important things down.
I decided to change that. The answer was simple: keep a journal.
There are apps for scoring games, but I don’t want to fiddle with my smartphone at a baseball game. I find the idea to be repulsive.
I experimented with various notepads and scorebooks. None of them were satisfactory. The notepads: too plain, too much of an empty page; and they filled up with personal notes unrelated to the games.
The traditional baseball scorebooks were the opposite: too many grids and slots to fill for recording game minutia. And usually large and cumbersome.
Two criteria emerged: one, it had to be pocket-sized. Many of the scorebooks I found in sporting goods stores were too large and spiral bound. I’m biased against spiral-bound notebooks as the curly ends hook on random stuff and trip out of their perforations. And the size: if it’s too large to fit into my pocket, I must carry it. I don’t want one more thing to carry on game day. Nobody does.
The second decision was that I did not want to score the entire game in extreme detail.
Scorekeeping—especially in baseball—is a wonderful way to deeply connect to the game. I believe the tradition of scorekeeping in baseball is an American heritage. I highly recommend Paul Dickson’s wonderful book, The Joy of Keeping Score to learn more about this tradition.
Scoring an entire game in the traditional manner is an exercise in concentration and focus, so much so that it is difficult to pull yourself away from the game to buy a hot dog as you will certainly miss something–and then your scoresheet will be incomplete.
That being said, I don’t want to be anal-retentive bookkeeper when my son is playing ball.
I simply want a snapshot of how he played and a few highlights of the game, not an itemized balance sheet of every strike, balk, ball, catch, hit and error for every player on the field.
Traditional baseball scorebooks are coach-focused in the sense that data of the entire game is recorded to give the coach information to analyze later on. This generates the huge amount of statistics that baseball is famous for. These standard scorebooks can pack a lot of information but that information must also be written down by someone.
Playmaker Journals are a player-focused scorebook. For the player your are interested in, you record the results of batting and base running for each plate appearance and also what defensive actions the player took for each inning. That’s it. Just scribble down a few notes and enjoy the game.
James Card, creator/publisher