I took my 8-year-old daughter to the home opener for the West Michigan Whitecaps on Saturday. As we were getting ready to go, I noticed she was carrying a scrap of paper and a pencil.
"Honey, what are you going to do with that, draw during the game?" I asked.
"No, it’s to keep score," Caroline replied.
My heart melted. I LOVE keeping score at a baseball game, and I’ve done it for as long as I can remember.
I’m not exactly sure why I do it. I remember seeing a cartoon once of a guy keeping score, and a second guy saying "I think they already have someone to do that." In fact, my buddy Will is indeed that person for the Columbus Clippers. And yes, I wear the green horns of envy.
I just think it’s a neat way to stay focused on the action, and see how a player is doing throughout the game. And it’s fun to look back and see which players we were able to watch. I was thumbing through an old Toldeo Mud Hens score card and it showed I had an opportunity to boo Chipper Jones when he was a Richmond Brave.
It also gives me an excuse to buy a program at every game, as if I needed one. Although there was a period when Will and I were headed to Tiger Stadium about once a homestand. And since the Tigers didn’t change their programs too often, I bought a score book from MC Sports and carried it around to every game we attended during those seasons. It's a cool sounvenir of a whole year of baseball.
I’ve tried to teach my son how to keep score over the years. But he’s typically only interested after the batteries in his GameBoy die around the seventh inning.
But Caroline might be my best hope to pass the love of scoring down to another generation. She’s detail-oriented, loves to learn and is obsessively neat -- perfect traits for a scorekeeper. And since she’s only 8, her interest in baseball games was previously limited to following the mascots around and scraping Lemon Chills. I was overjoyed that she wanted to do something that gets her a little more into the game.
We picked up our programs -- they’re free at Whitecaps games -- and pulled out our pencils, because you just shouldn’t keep score in pen. We went over the basics, talking about how you make a little diamond in the box when someone gets on base, and how each person on the field has a number that corresponds to his position, not the number on his uniform.
We copied down the starting lineups as they were introduced, and started scoring with the first pitch.
I had one of those "I’ve-got-the-greatest-daughter-ever" moments when I asked her if she wanted something to eat about halfway through the game. She responded, "Daddy, if we leave our seats, how can we write down what happened?" I nearly wept.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, a man sitting in front of us turned around and complimented her scorecard. "You’re doing a good job," he said. "When I overheard you doing that at the start of the game, I didn’t think you’d stick with it. I can’t believe you’ve done it for the whole game."
That’s my girl!