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In the game of baseball, the official scorer is a person appointed by the league to record the events on the field, and to send this official record of the game back to the league offices. In addition to recording the events on the field such as the outcome of each plate appearance and the circumstances of any baserunner's advance around the bases, the official scorer is also charged with making judgment calls that do not affect the progress or outcome of the game, such as errors, fielder's choice, and defensive indifference, all of which are included in the record compiled. This record is used to compile statistics for each player and/or team. A box score is a summary of the official scorer's game record.

The official scorer never goes on the field, as his or her decisions do not impact the outcome of the game (he or she typically watches from the press box or other suitable location), and fans rarely know the person's identity.

Contents

History

Because statistics (other than the score) were mostly of interest only to sportswriters in the early years, the journalists who covered pro teams were appointed to be official scorers. As their statistics began to be used in determining league awards, the perception arose of a conflict of interest. In 1980, Major League Baseball decided to begin hiring non-journalists to do the job. As a practical matter, the official scorer for a game is traditionally selected by the home club, although MLB is the official employer of record and pays his or her salary.

There are now virtually no formal requirements for becoming an official scorer. However, potential scorers must file an application, and still usually serve an apprenticeship under an incumbent scorer before they assume full responsibility. In 2001, the Commissioner of Major League Baseball established a scoring committee, which currently has five members, to review calls made by official scorers. This committee can make recommendations, but does not have the power to overturn a scorer’s decisions.[1]

Responsibilities

The responsibilities of the official scorer are spelled out in MLB Rule 10.01, "Official Scorer (General Rules)". In summary,

The official scorer shall have sole authority to make all decisions concerning application of Rule 10 that involve judgment, such as whether a batter's advance to first base is the result of a hit or an error…After each game, including forfeited and called games, the official scorer shall prepare a report, on a form prescribed by the League President, listing the date of the game, where it was played, the names of the competing clubs and the umpires, the full score of the game and all records of individual players compiled according to the system specified in this Rule 10. The official scorer shall forward this report to the league office as soon as practicable after the game ends.
MLB Rule 10.01

The official scorer is charged with recording all the events on the field and submitting a report as specified in Rule 10.02. He/she is also charged with making the following judgment calls:

When making these judgment calls, the official scorer must often take into consideration a defensive player's "ordinary effort", defined in MLB Rule 2 as "the effort that a fielder of average skill at a position in that league or classification of leagues should exhibit on a play, with due consideration given to the condition of the field and weather conditions."

The official scorer does not enter the field of play, and his/her report may not contradict any call made by the umpires on the field or any portion of Rule 10. The only time the scorer may call the attention of the umpires during the game is if the participating teams change sides before there are three outs, per Rule 10.01(b)(2).

References

  1. ^ David E. Kalist and Stephen J. Spurr, "Baseball Errors," Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, Vol. 2: No. 4, Article 3 (2006).
  2. ^ Although Rule 10.17(a) clearly defines the criteria for determining a winning pitcher, and most Major League Baseball winning pitchers are determined in this way, Rules 10.17(b) and (c) outline cases where the official scorer may use his or her judgment in determining the winning pitcher.

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