My freshman year of high school, I played on the JV softball team. But whenever the JV team wasn’t playing, I was effectively the backup 2nd baseman for the varsity team. And while this meant I got to travel with the team for varsity tournaments, it also meant I rode the bench a lot for those games.
One game, we found ourselves without a scorekeeper. There were no parents willing to do it (or who knew how), and the JV coach was acting as 1st base coach for this varsity contest. Faced with limited options, the varsity coach called me over, sat me down with the scorebook, and gave me a crash course in scorekeeping. For the rest of the year, I also became the backup scorekeeper for the varsity team. From my sophomore year on, when I was a true member of the varsity squad, I became the backup scorekeeper for the JV team.
Equipped with this new know-how, I began keeping score whenever I’d listen to Royals games on the radio late at night in my room. My pencil-and-spiral-notebook system of scorekeeping was a much-simplified system compared to what I knew could be done in a true scorebook, but I still found it a great way to stay engaged with the ballgame.
My habit of keeping score for Royals games became sporadic, at best, after graduating high school, until the practice became virtually nonexistent. Today, however, I sat down with a notebook in the minutes prior to the start of the Royals-Mariners contest and I created that same, crude little table I used to make on those late nights as a teenager. I filled in the lineups for both teams, and as the game commenced, I tracked the results of each at-bat.
The ghost runner didn’t exist the last time I scored a game, so that was a new experience — I created the not-so-imaginative notation “GR” to note the ghost runner. I really thought I was going to have to start a new page when I used up the last player spot for Royals pinch hitters, but the conclusion of the game in the 12th sadly prevented that from becoming a necessity.
I’m pretty heartbroken that the Royals ended up losing in extra innings (and got swept by Seattle in the process). But I rediscovered how much I enjoy keeping score and the act of watching every at-bat with so much intent. I definitely need to reignite this practice as a habit, and hopefully it won’t take too long before I get to score a Royals ‘W’.