…So there I was…It was a warm, weekend afternoon in the summer of 2019, I had already completed my Saturday responsibility of hacking up the local municipal golf course, so I settled in on the couch with my pugs to watch my beloved St. Louis Cardinals who were scheduled to play in a half hour or so. I was killing time before the game, thumbing through Twitter, catching up on Redbird news from the likes of heavy hitters such as Derrick Goold, Jim Hayes, and Danny McLaughlin when a related tweet caught my eye and I stopped scrolling to focus on it a bit. Twitter user @StewStilez’s post was amazingly succinct. It was a simple byline of significant events that took place in the Cards’ last game with a high-resolution photo of a completed Bob Carpenter© scorecard from the game. This intrigued me. I thought to myself,
“This is kind of cool”, and, “I always keep a book when I’m at the game”, and, “This book looks way better than mine”. But then I got really curious. I thought to myself,
“How can an elderly man possibly be gaining traction by way of followers on social media by marketing himself with such a bygone hobby? Who the hell is this old man and why does he continue to dredge the oceans of an era that is dead and gone?” I had to get to the bottom of this, but my research would have to wait until after the game and of course, after I ordered a nice, professional scorebook of my own.
With countless personally blemished scorecards a successful 2019 season in the in the rear view, I set out to learn more about this elderly gentleman who waywardly stumbled into the lineup of a St. Louis media outlet and to learn more about the way he goes about keeping the perfect book.
Ok old-timer, with the countless advances in technology, why do you insist on physically scoring baseball games with a pen and paper?
@StewStilez: It’s really the only way I know how to keep score, honestly. I’ve seen guys like John Rooney (Cardinals radio play by play) keep score on their computers, but that would take me too much time because I really enjoy using my computer during games on Baseball Savant (baseballsavant.mlb.com). I'm a pretty big baseball nerd, I love tracking in game statistics on top of keeping up with the scorebook right in front of me. It's a lot, especially doing it on a daily basis, but it's a very big passion of mine. I’m also very OCD, so I’ve got the routine down precisely, literally. I tend to prepare the scorebook the day/night before a game, or what I can at least (team records, stats, bullpens, etc.). Doing that allows me to get the book done quicker before a game, because it still takes me 30 minutes to an hour to prep the lineups and stats, bench players, standings, umpires, weather, etc.
Seriously, what do those social security checks look like nowadays? Is it worth the wait?
@StewStilez: As much as I wish I was collecting those checks, I still got a ways to go before then. I know you see this, for the most part, anonymous twitter user who likes to keep score to every baseball game, using different colored pens with the handwriting of a serial killer, but I’m only 25. To answer the second question, do I have to wait? I mean, that’s seriously so far away.
(Now that we’ve established that you’re NOT a coffin-dodger)
When did you learn how to score baseball games and why did this seem entertaining to you? (Alternatively: did you learn this from a family member, friend, etc?)
@StewStilez I’m gonna give you a guesstimate, I think I started to learn how to score in 2005-2006 range. Growing up and playing baseball, I always saw a coach in the dugout with a pencil and book and was curious, “what the hell is that guy writing down?” I finally figured it out, then came understanding what all the gibberish actually meant. I ended up teaching myself because I was too embarrassed to ask anyone for help. So, I went to the sporting goods store here in town and bought a basic scorebook that I always saw little league coaches using. Inside the book was all the instructions and information a kid like me ever needed.
Although I had kept score before this, one of the first Cardinals games I remember keeping score for was vs the Mets at the old Citi Field. It had to be in August or September of 2007 because Mike Maroth was pitching (yikes, pick a better game to score kid).
As the years went on, I found myself scoring more and more games. I'd sit in my room during the summer and just focus on the TV, not caring about a social life at that age, which was weird. That's when I slowly started implementing my own way of scoring. It’s to the point now where I haven’t changed anything in the last 3 or 4 years, I finally figured out my system after a good 10 or 11 years.
Do you keep score? Birds on the Black is always looking for contributors.
Do you exclusively score games you attend, games you catch on TV, or both?
@StewStilez This is a good question. When I was growing up and going to games with my parents, I always bought a scorecard at the stadium and kept score at the games and would only keep score at home a handful of times throughout the season. But as I started scoring more, it transitioned into the opposite and I suddenly was scoring every game at home, and the games I attended I’d just sit back and enjoy.
There’s more to it, the scorebook I use is a Bob Carpenter© scorebook and it’s pretty big. So, taking that to games is a hassle because it’s broadcaster size and is a pretty decent sized book. Also, I use three different pen colors (black, red, blue) and two different colored highlighters (pink and yellow), and nobody wants to have a million pens and highlighters in their pockets at a game when you can just sit back and enjoy an ice-cold rally beer.
Now, for games I do attend, I always put down in the scorebook when I get home, yes, that’s how extreme my OCD is. Before the game I always write down each teams lineup in my notes, along with all their stats, etc. That makes filling it in so much easier and then all I have to do is get on the MLB at Bat app and go through the play-by-play.
Do you have an archive of scored games at home? If so, how many “perfect books” have you kept?
@StewStilez: Oh, hell yeah!! Tons of them. I have probably 95% of all Cardinals games since the start of the 2014 season. But from 2016-on, I have every game, so, four perfect books. It's really cool to go back to a certain game that’s on your memory or just randomly flipping an old book open to see what happened on the random game. I always joke around and make my friends give me a random date from 2016-present and see if they can pick a winner, if they don’t, I make them keep going until they do pick a winning date and then I read off what happened that day. It's like my own Cardinals history books, that’s what keeps me going really.
What are your Top 5 favorite games that you were alive for/can recall and have personally scored?
@StewStilez: Man, this is a tough one. Not because I have so many, but because my memory sucks and I’d have to flip through the years of books just to narrow it down correctly. The first one that comes to mind was an early May game during the 2015 season vs the Cubs and starter, Travis Wood. The Cardinals found themselves already down 5-0 heading to the bottom of the 1st, but Mark Reynolds (remember when Reynolds body planted face first into the LF wall at Miller Park?) smoked a grand slam to make it 5-4, just like that. The Cardinals held on to win 10-9 and pushed their record to (19-6), which was a franchise best start to a season since 1900. Another one, well four games really, was the four-game sweep at Wrigley to put the Cardinals in the driver’s seat to win the NL Central. I mean what’s better than Yadi and Pauly Deez back-to-back bombs off Kimbrel, on two pitches to retake the lead? That’s that Cardinals devil magic.
The 2015 game when Jhonny Peralta hit a go-ahead two-run homer off Strop in the top of the 9th down to our last strike was incredible, too. That ball barely snuck over the basket to give the Cardinals a 6-5 lead. Carpenter’s series at Wrigley in the summer of 2018 was a blast, too. Especially that game when he hit 3 HR’s and 2 doubles in the same game. Why keep pitching to him, Joe? This is about the time Maddon started using four outfielders to try and get Carpenter out.
I could go on and on just reliving Cards/Cubs games over the years, they always seem to be the most intense to sit there and keep score to.
Note: Q7/8/9… will adjust the focus slightly away from scoring games and get more into you, your interests, passions, goals, etc.
Now, a little bit about myself, as Mr. Reese asked me about my passions and goals.
I grew up in a sport filled family, seriously, that’s all me and my two brothers knew. I was the middle child, so I got the first crash test coaching lessons from my older brother, Trey. I’m sure some of you know how it is growing up with an older sibling and all the rigorous challenges they test you with. I feel like I was getting D1 level training at the age of 5 or 6.
Then the cycle all repeated itself when my younger brother Zach was born about five years after me. But this time, he got to endure two older brothers putting him through those same tests. And they definitely ended up paying off, as he went on to play college baseball at Westminster.
Baseball was always my hobby, but it turned into a deep passion for me at a very young age. I remember being fully committed to Cardinals baseball for the first time in my life in 2002, being in second grade. I was the kid in school who never paid attention during class, sitting in the back, jotting down the Cardinals 25-man roster, lineup/bullpen, along with the disabled list(s). Eventually, that’s all my notebooks would ever be filled with.
It certainly didn’t help that my dad would pull me out of school early to head to St. Louis for playoff games or Opening Day. He made Opening Day a tradition, and because of that, I’ve only missed one home opener since second grade (2011 vs the Padres) thanks to stupid high school baseball. So, if any of my awesome Cardinals twitter fam is going to be in attendance at this year’s home opener, reach out to me so we can link up for a rally beer or six.
Other than baseball consuming 95% of my life, I also make music, as well as being a dog dad to my sweet girl, Penny. She is a 10-month old puppy mixed with five different breeds- American Staffordshire Terrier, Treeing Walker Coonhound, German Shepherd, Labrador Retriever, and Alaskan Malamute.
Music has really taken over my life the past couple of years, but I started recording songs when I was 17. I’ve started to take my music more serious after some personal problems that really woke me up to the real world, and it served as an escape and a place to vent and be myself. I was lost and didn’t know who I was until I met the best music engineer of all time and he showed me how to channel my emotions behind a microphone. As the years have gone on, I’ve assembled the best team and group of supporters to keep pushing me and my passions even further.
But for now, it’s the start of a new baseball season, and that’s why you’ll find me on the twitter machine. Let’s go Cardinals!!!!
Big shout out to Mr. Reese @So_There_I_Was for reaching out to me and making this entire thing happen. I always wanted to put together something like this and if it wasn’t for him sliding into my DM’s, it probably would’ve never happened. Thank you so much for asking me these questions.
Secondly, another huge shout out to @cardinalsgifs for helping me throw this piece together on the run. I don’t know what I’d do without gifs, he makes my life drastically easier.