How a Baseball Scorecard Works

A baseball scorecard lets you record every detail of the action on the field.
A baseball scorecard lets you record every detail of the action on the field.

Baseball has long been called the great American pastime, but it can be tricky for newcomers to figure out.

Most people understand the old "one, two, three strikes you're out," but baseball has many intricacies, positions and strategies that can make it tough to follow if you're inexperienced at watching the game.

A great way to learn things a little better is to keep a baseball scorecard. Essentially, a scorecard allows someone watching the game to record every play and every move that happens throughout the innings.

Keeping a scorecard is useful for a variety of baseball watchers. The official scorekeeper uses a scorecard or similar system to determine the actual score and end result of a game. Talent scouts can also use them to locate promising players. In addition, dedicated fans can keep a scorecard throughout the game and then start a collection. Keeping score like this even works in kid's Little League games.

Perhaps most importantly, scorekeeping -- whether it's done on paper on a computer -- is used to determine important statistics like a player's batting average, earned run average (ERA) and strikeout ratio [source: McGovern].

If you decide to start keeping score in baseball, it's a great way to learn more about the sport and get even more involved than simply watching the game. In this article, we'll show you the ins-and-outs of keeping score on a scorecard -- what the symbols mean, how to use shorthand and how to score a game as you go along. Play ball!