During my leisurely travels, if I’m in a baseball market, I generally try to slide through the turnstiles and watch the boys of spring and summer play America’s grand old game.
Of course, as is the case in any entertainment-driven venue, when it comes to what one buys at the ballpark, there are few bargains. Whatever’s on sale, it’s usually premium pricing.
However, as I reflect back on a July weekend getaway with Lady Jane to Quail Hollow Resort in Painesville, just down the road a piece from downtown Cleveland, I discovered what I believe to be the best bargain at the Indians’ home park, Progressive Field.
We had tickets for a Sunday afternoon game between the hometown Indians and my Yankees and arrived, as I always like to do, right when the gates opened. Like many baseball fans, I enjoy watching the pre-game preps of players and groundskeepers alike.
As we passed one vending booth, one where scorecards and pencils were on sale, my mind quickly raced back to a time so very many years ago to my very first Major League game, one, as all first professional baseball games should be, was shared with my dad.
The trip was to the old Briggs Stadium in Detroit, and it was on that day that I first tried my hand at scoring the game between Kaline and Colavito’s Tigers and Mantle and Maris’ Yankees.
That day I first tried my hand at using the system of numbers and letters needed in scoring a game. Now, it surely wasn’t professional, and even as some experienced scorecard devotees do, I used my own abbreviations to indicate what each player’s at-bat produced. However, with more baseball visits to Detroit and Cincinnati’s Crosley Field, there came opportunities to fill my scorecards, and my scoring skills evolved. My GOS for a groundout to shortstop in the little box beside a player’s name became the more standard 6-3 the experienced scorecard person uses, employing the number system used to designate each player’s position on the field.
However, somewhere along the line, in my visits to ballgames, I stopped keeping scorecards. But, this past summer’s Indians-Yankees game, I saw the $1 cost for the scorecard, making it easily the best bargain in a stadium that sells $4 bottles of water and $8-plus beers. Now, I did notice that the pencil was sold separately, unlike in my boyhood days when you got the pencil with a scorecard purchase, but since this writer is rarely without a writing utensil, I passed on the graphite a la carte item.
There’s something about keeping score at any game that makes it official. During my teaching career, a far younger version of me while at Allen East added to my extracurricular activities’ plate that included coaching junior high football and freshman basketball by keeping the basketball scorebook for the varsity Mustangs.
A scorebook or scorecard is actually, when you think about it, a historical document. Several years ago, I worked with Brian Karrick on a two-part feature on the two basketball games the Lima Senior basketballers of 1958 against Jerry Lucas’ Middletown Middies.
Brian, a starter on that Lyle Barber-coached Spartan team, actually had the scorebook for the two games against Lucas, the famous game in Lima when Lucas was held to a career low of 16 points in a competitive contest that Middletown won, and the later Valentine’s Day Middie massacre on Middletown’s home court when Middletown coach Paul Walker left Lucas in for the whole lopsided win, which allowed Big Luke to score his career high 63 points.
In studying the scorebook, one Brian told me was always in those days kept by one of Lima Senior’s iconic educators, Walter “Bugs” Koch, I could almost hear through the echoes of time the squeak of Chuck Taylors on the hardwoods of the 1950s.
Meanwhile back at Progressive Field, I diligently kept my little boxes in order inning after inning, chronicling each at-bat and the progression of baserunners around the bases with lines as they moved up a base, and, of course, filling in those little diamonds in the center of the boxes when players scored. Unfortunately for my Yankees, by game’s end, there were five solid ballpoint-blue filled diamonds for the Indians and only two for my New Yorkers.
And, after I finished the final batter’s little box with the Yankees’ 27th and final out, a lazy fly ball by Greg Bird that became an FO-9 when it settled into the Indian right fielder Tyler Naquin’s glove, I rejected the notion that my little piece of history needed to be kept in a house already stuffed with sports-related material. So, I stood up and promptly tore the scorecard into smaller squares and placed it on the arm of my seat for post-game cleanup.
Nonetheless, I think that buck I spent brought me a better return on investment than the $17 I spent for a couple cold ones on a hot day!
John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at email@example.com.