No, this article has nothing to do with an Indiana Jones movie, or some story similar to The Da Vinci Code, where a sacred artifact is in peril and a protagonist needs to rescue it to protect it. This is an article about the people who keep a sacred language related to the game of baseball alive.
The ability to learn a language is a difficult one. It requires practice, patience, an understanding and appreciation for the beautiful words and symbols joined together to communicate. Even the greatest of scholars did not learn their second, third, or fourth languages in hours or days.
Although, there is one language that was created in 1859 by Henry Chadwick that could be learned rather quickly. If not in days then maybe hours. It was based upon an individual’s knowledge of baseball. The language was made to document stories as they happened in real time. This language was recorded using numbers and letters to retell a story. Simply by looking at this language and understanding it you can replay moments in your head and feel as though you are a spectator.
Henry Chadwick had created the modern scorecard.
Keeping score at a professional baseball game is a dying art. Why go to a game? Why keep score?
To be fair, I do not have a reason why I continue to do it, other than I simply enjoy it. But isn’t that reason enough? My father taught me this skill when I was younger. Looking back it is something I appreciate my father teaching me. If I had to guess why he taught this to me, it was probably to keep my adolescent mind focused on the ball game rather than a trip to the Kid Zone at any ballpark. I think this is probably where my dislike for attending a Kid Zone mid-game stems from.
I wanted to watch the game! I wanted to see each and every pitch. Seeing fans vacate their seats for a mid-game trip to the Kid Zone feels like it misses the point of attending a baseball game.
My friends regularly make fun of me for still keeping score at every game I attend. It doesn’t bother me. I enjoy telling them that it is in fact a lost art that I appreciate keeping alive. From a fan’s perspective there are very few spectators who still attend the games and keep score. Of course, members of the media keep the art alive. They use it to help themselves keep record of the game’s events to speak about previous at bats, or special plays in their recaps.
There are definitely moments when the language can become difficult. For instance on a play like this.
(The play featured above is recorded 5-3-4-2-5-1-5 FC (Fielder’s Choice))
But more often than not it never gets this complex.
The lost art of score keeping at a ballgame is a sacred endangered language.
There is a simplistic beauty to recording each play as it occurs. Completing a scorecard leaves one with a sense of fulfillment. I love to collect my scorecards. Occasionally I’ll go through a box filled with programs and will open them and recreate the game just as I remember it.
Keeping score in professional baseball is nearly 160 years old, and the language seems to be dying and transitioning to strictly Little League games and media purposes. In the interest of the game and a sense of tradition the next time you go to a game consider keeping the score, learning the language, and writing the story of the game you are watching.