The Art of Scoring Baseball/Softball


To a baseball coach, the lines and numbers and letters and circles and dashes…..well, you get the point, neatly written in the smallest of small boxes is a ‘Picasso’.

Scoring a baseball game truly is an art. What may look like chicken scratch or jibberish may be as valuable as gold to a coach or parent keeping stats.


Boxes averaging not much more than a square ½ inch can contain the unfolding of an epic comeback or an epic coming apart at the seams, all without a single word written.


Although many veteran scorers have their own, unique scoring techniques, I want to share the basics of getting the job done. I don’t know how many times I’ve posted a lineup card and had a player ask me what the #’s stood for. I think it’s an important part of a great game, so here goes:


Baseball uses a ‘Shorthand’ technique to make it relatively simple to keep a scorecard or scorebook during a game. Each position on the field is given a number and this number is used by coaches and scorers alike when turning in lineups, scorecards to umpires, scoring a game or grading games.


Positions by Numbers:

1- Pitcher

2- Catcher

3- First Base

4- Second Base

5- Third Base

6- Shortstop

7- Left Field

8- Center Field

9- Right Field


Positions by Letters:                                       

P-   Pitcher                                                             

C-   Catcher

1B- First Base

2B- Second Base

3B- Third Base

SS- Shortstop

LF- Left Field

CF- Centerfield

RF- Right Field



Basic Outcome Abbreviations:


F-                                                                   Fly

E-                                                                   Error

K-                                                                  Strikeout Swinging

-                                                                  Strikeout Looking


There are several statistics that begin with the letter "s," so newspaper editors decided that "k", which is the last letter of "Struck", as in "Struck out", would be best. This can be attributed to Henry Chadwick back in the 1850’s.


U-                                                                    Unassisted (Meaning NO THROW was involved.)

1-                                                                     Single

2-                                                                     Double

3-                                                                     Triple

HR-                                                                  Homerun

SAC-                                                                Sacrifice Bunt/Hit

BB-                                                                  Walk

HP-                                                                  Hit By Pitch

FC-                                                                   Fielder’s Choice


In the following example, let’s go through the 1st inning.

Jones leads off and is put out on a ground ball to the second baseman who throws it to the first baseman (4-3).

2-hole hitter Avila hits a single with a 1-1 count, steals second base, is sacrificed over to third and ends up scoring on Lollar’s double.

3-hole hitter Roberts sacrifice bunts and is thrown out at first base with a throw from the pitcher.

Also in this example you can see that Roberts was later replaced in the game (4th inning) at the catcher (2) position.

Clean-up (4-hole) hitter Lollar hits a run-scoring double earning him a trip to second base and an RBI.

5-hole hitter, Robson, walks and 6-hole hitter, Best, grounds out to the shortstop (6-3) to end the inning.  


Also, in this example, you will note that a line is used each time a baserunner moves from base to base. And oft times the scorer will note what occured to enable the runner to move by either circling the available abbreviations or writing what happened ie. SB- The baserunner stole 2nd.


Another example could be a notation for a single with the runner moving to 2B on an error. In this instance, an E-7 would be written between first and second base showing the runner moving up a base because of the error.


Other notations could be:



WP- Wild Pitch

PB- Passed Ball




Finally, when a baserunner has moved around all bases and crossed homeplate, the Diamond is filled in, representing a Run Scored.




As you can see- Baseball has it’s own language. It’s own unique set of letters, symbols and terms makes it a game like no other. And what a great game it is!!