How To Be The Winning AND Losing Pitcher In The Same Game


Let’s open the 2011 season by pulling a question out of the “e-mailbag”…

Q: Suppose Bob is the pitcher of record when a game is suspended. Before the game resumes a few months later, Bob gets traded to the other team. Assuming Bob pitches for his new team once the game resumes, could he be the winning pitcher for one team, and ALSO the losing pitcher for the other team?
(Luke – via the WorldWideWeb)

A: The answer is YES Luke. First off, Bob is eligible to pitch for both teams in the same game. This is covered on page 41 of the 2010 edition of the Official Baseball Rules:

Rule 4.12(c): …A player who was not with the club
when the game was suspended may be used as a substitute,
even if he has taken the place of a player
no longer with the club who would not have been eligible
because he had been removed from the lineup
before the game was suspended.

That being said, I only know of one scenario in which Bob could be both the winning and losing pitcher. In order for this incredibly rare instance to occur, all of the following conditions would have to happen before the game was suspended and when it was resumed – as indicated in Rule 10.17:

  • Bob’s “first” team would have be the home team,
  • The home team would have to be batting (bottom of the inning),
  • The home team would have to be trailing the visiting team (not tied),
  • The tying or go-ahead runs could not be on base,
  • Bob would be the “pitcher of record”, having completed the top of the inning,
  • Upon the game’s resumption, Bob would have to immediately enter the game as the visiting pitcher,
  • The home team would have to assume the lead with Bob as the pitcher of record for the visiting team.

In the minors, infielder Andrew Pinckey had the chance to play for both teams in the same game on July 28, 2008. To read more about it,
click here. I’m sure there are others, but as far as Major League Baseball goes I have my own story on this topic.






Early in my minor league scoring career I was personally “duped” by a former major leaguer turned pitching coach who had claimed to have struck out himself out under a circumstance similar to Luke’s question. In this fibbing player’s scenario, he had been batting when the game was suspended, traded to the opposing team, and entered as the pitcher when the game was resumed. A tremendous story-except the world wide web confirmed it to be an extremely TALL tale. A famous man once said, “Trust – then verify”.

It’s a simple game. Really.

Send your questions and comments to the mailbag.


Official Scoring In The Big Leagues: Now Available For Purchase Via The Internet

Official Scoring in the Big Leagues

Official Scoring in the Big Leagues is the definitive work of what Major League Baseball Official Scorers do and why they do it. It is now available for purchase on the world wide web – via eBay.

Included in its nine chapters is the history of official scoring, a primer on how to keep score, the importance of awareness, communication, and observation on official scoring, the role of baseball statisticians, and instructions on how to fill out baseball forms. It also includes lists of perfect games, no-hitters, and World Series official scorers.

Unlike other books available on the subject, this one was written by an expert in the field. Bill Shannon was a sports historian, reporter, author, and for the last four decades an Official Scorer in New York for both the Mets and Yankees. At the time of his death last October, Mr. Shannon was considered to be the best one of the best Official Scorers in all of Major League Baseball.

To purchase, please click here.

Honoring Bill Shannon

By now, most know of the tragic passing of legendary MLB Official Scorer Bill Shannon this past October. Mr. Shannon was many things, not the least of which was the “father” of modern-day baseball official scoring. He was one of the last Official Scorers to be appointed by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA), prior to its abdication of overseeing Official Scorers in 1980. For many years he tirelessly assisted that organization in its endeavors, and will fittingly be honored by the BBWAA’s New York Chapter early next year.

Four members of the New York Official Scoring Fraternity pose in 2008 before the final game in the old Yankee Stadium: Jordan Sprechman, Bill Shannon, Howie Karpin, and David Freeman.

Mr. Shannon shared his vast knowledge with anybody and everybody who asked. In regards to official scoring, he mentored countless sportwriters, broadcasters, statisticians, front office staff, players, coaches, moguls, interns, barbers, repairmen – the list is endless. Anyone who has ever asked me a baseball rules or scoring question can be assured that my understanding came from one of my many conversations with him. His expertise was even called upon by Major League Baseball when he was asked to take part in the discussions that led to the last update to the Official Baseball Rules.

Mr. Shannon’s generosity was without boundary. In a world where it can be argued that social networking has destroyed the concept of two-way human interaction, Bill Shannon was unquestionably the Patron Saint of CONVERSATION. He enjoyed speaking AND he enjoyed listening, and wouldn’t let a discussion end until every possible branch of it had been explored by all parties.

In the spirt of two-way conversation, it is my hope is that once the college baseball season starts in the early spring that I will get the opportunity to discuss here the many scoring situations that take place across the collegiate diamonds, and then continue those discussions into the professional baseball seasons. Please accept this open invitation to post comments or ask questions – rules, scoring, statcrew or otherwise.

I ask you – my friends of the world wide web – let’s have a “conversation” about baseball…official scoring.

Official Scorers And The Baseball Hall of Fame


In honor of yesterday’s announcement that Andre Dawson was elected to the  National Baseball Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA), It seemed fitting to devote an entry to the Hall of Fame…and Official Scorers.

Henry Chadwick (HOF '38), was baseball's first Official Scorer (photo courtesy of Transcendental Graphics).

Dawson is the 292nd person to be elected to the Hall of Fame, which includes 203 former Major League players, 35 Negro league players, 26 executives and pioneers, 19 managers, and nine umpires. Henry Chadwick (HOF Class of 1938), who was elected under the pioneer category, is the only Official Scorer among the group of 292. Chadwick is credited with inventing the baseball box score and likely was the first person to ever “score” a professional baseball game.

There is an explanation as to why it appears that Official Scorers have been overlooked. For sixty years (1920-1980) it was the responsibility of the the BBWAA to provide an Official Scorer at every major league baseball game. Since 1980 it has been the responsibility of Major League Baseball itself to appoint Official Scorers for both the American and National Leagues, and in many cases retired BBWAA members have served in that capacity.

To that end, the J.G. Taylor Spink Award has been awarded to baseball writers for their meritorious contributions to the field of baseball writing. Just like the winners of the Ford Frick Award for Broadcasting, the J.G. Taylor Spink Award recipients are not truly “members” of the hall of fame. Their names are inscribed on an exhibit called “Scribes and Mikemen” outside of the main library at the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Many of these Spink Award winners have also served as Official Scorers. Below are listed the winners of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award who have definitely served as a major league Official Scorer sometime during their career. The year they won the award is also included in parenthesis.

Bob Addie – Washington, DC (1981)
Bob Broeg – St. Louis (1979)
Warren Brown – Chicago (1973)
Gordon Cobbledick – Cleveland (1977)
Earl Lawson – Cincinnati (1985)
Dan Daniel – New York (1972)
John Drebinger – New York (1973)
Charley Feeney – New York (1996)
Tommy Holmes – Brooklyn (1979)
Jerome Holtzman Chicago (1989)
James Isaminger – Philadelphia (1974)
John F. Kieran – New York (1973)
Jack Lang – Brooklyn (1986)
Joe McGuff – Kansas City (1984)
Ray Kelly – Philadelphia (1988)
Fred Lieb – New York (1972)
Sid Mercer New York (1969)
Shirley Povich – Washington, DC (1975)
Harry G. Salsinger – Detroit (1968)
Ken Smith – New York (1983)
J.G. Taylor Spink – St. Louis (1962)
J. Roy Stockton – St. Louis (1972)
Dick Young – New York (1978)

The list above is likely incomplete. Also, I have not included any Frick Award winners since I am unaware of any broadcasters who have served as an Official Scorer.

In compliling the list above, many thanks go out to:
Baseball Almanac
Official Scoring in the Big Leagues, written by Bill Shannon (2006), and to Keith Olbermann who assisted Mr. Shannon with some of his research.

GIDPs Are Twice As Bad


Our latest question comes to us via text message from Tom and Dan at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia:

Q: Greetings from the home of the 2008 World Champions! Take a look at how the top of the 8th inning ended here tonight…

A: Thanks for pointing out one you don’t see every day:

With one out and runners at first and second, Kevin Kouzmanoff grounded to third base. Pedro Feliz threw to Chase Utley to get the force at second, and Utley threw the ball back to Feliz at third for the inning-ending double play. In addition to recording the 5-4-5 DP on their scoresheet, Tom and Dan must also give Kouzmanoff “credit” for a GIDP – ground into double play.

Rule 10.02(a)(17): “The official score report prepared by
the official scorer shall be in a form prescribed
by the league and shall include: Number of force double plays
and reverse-force double plays grounded into.”

Stat Crew Nation would correctly type in the above play as follows:
Batter – ”FC GDP”
Runner at first – ”X″
Runner at second – ”545″

And if it had been less than two outs, AND a runner from third scored…

…Kouzmanoff would NOT have gotten credit for an RBI
Rule 10.04(B)(1).

The fact that Kouzmanoff was not “put out” is immaterial, he hit a ground ball that resulted in a double play.

It’s a simple game. Really.

TRIVIA TIME…this play resulted in Kouzmanoff’s second GIDP of the game, but the good news for him is that he is nowhere close to the all-time record. Do you know WHO holds the all-time record for grounding into the MOST double plays in their career? Your only hint is that this Hall-Of-Famer is better known for holding another record.

Send your questions, comments, and answers to the mailbag…

Fouling Up The Rule


Let’s pull another question out of the email bag…

Q: Can an error ever be called if a hitter hits a CATCHABLE foul ball that is dropped by either the catcher or one of the fielders? (Warren – Washington, DC)

A: Can and must.

Rule 10.12(a)(2): The official scorer shall charge an error
against any fielder when such fielder muffs a foul fly to
prolong the time at bat of a batter, whether the batter
subsequently reaches first base or is put out.

It should be fairly clear to all that the intent of this rule is to give the pitcher the benefit of the doubt when a plate appearance is extended because of an error by a fielder.

Nowhere in the Official Baseball Rules does it mention that this rule be applied as a ”get out of earned run(s) FREE if there’s a foul ball” coupon for the pitcher. As ridiculous as this concept sounds, the frequency that it actually happens is the part I find to be completely ridiculous. To illustrate this point, I share with you the happenings of one of the first Major League Baseball games I ever covered:

Night game at Shea Stadium, in which it had rained all afternoon prior to the game. The ground crew did a great job readying the field for play, but the far reaches of the field were in less-than-perfect conditions. Mike Piazza hit a ball into foul territory, and the opposing team’s first baseman chased it as it headed towards the seats. The kitty litter and water puddles slowed this already slow first baseman down and the ball dropped harmlessly a few feet in front of him on the dirt track. The Official Scorer that night stated “No Play” – the correct call. On a night with perfect field conditions, his call might have been different.

Piazza drove the very next pitch out of the ballpark for a home run. As he was rounding the bases, a member of the media walked up to the Official Scorer and said something akin to now that we “know” what happened, he should change the dropped foul to an error to protect the pitcher by making Piazza’s run unearned. When the Official Scorer responded that this was not the intent of the rule, the media member responded that it would have been changed in other locales. The rest of the conversation was colorful, but not germaine to this discussion. You get the point.

Since that day, I’ve seen a couple of “E’s” mysteriously appear on college and minor league scoreboards shortly after such plays happen. It goes without saying, so I’ll say it again: As an Official Scorer you apply the rules on the “live” action AS IT HAPPENS. If you didn’t think the ball was playable at the time you saw it, what happens next should have no bearing on your decision. No matter what the manager, the player, or his mother say to you. I recommend that you leave “revising history” to historians, “managing” to managers, “parenting” to parents, and “official scoring” to Official Scorers.

It’s a simple game. Really.

Send your questions and comments to the mailbag.

Here Comes The Sun, And The Ball!


Here’s another question from the “e-mailbag”…

Q: An outfielder misplays a high, relatively routine, fly ball because he loses it in the sun. Is this a hit or an error? Does it make any difference if the ball hits the outfielder’s glove? (Gary – via the world wide web)

A: Let’s define two key words in Gary’s inquiry:

Let’s assume that Gary’s definition of routine is a ball that should be caught with ordinary effort. My favorite pitching coach defines that ball as the one “…that should be caught 100 times out of 100 times.”

To me, misplay means you had a play, but you didn’t make it. A fielder can’t play what he can’t see. Although I consider these types of plays to be unfortunate, I don’t consider them to be a misplay.

Back in baseball…offical scoring Blog#03, I covered similar circumstances as we debunked the myth that “A batted ball that reaches the outfield grass on the fly untouched by a fielder is automatically a base hit.” Today, we’re simply going to address Gary’s specific inquiry.

As the Official Scorer, we watch the batter make contact, we hear the crack of the bat, and ascertain by the ball’s trajectory that a “Can of Corn” is heading towards the outfield. I won’t speak for anyone else, but I know that while I am following the ball I am also checking the baserunners, fielders, and any other pertinent circumstances in the field of play. Depending on the hangtime, I’ll glance back amongst these various things more than once. I also try to focus on the eyes of the primary fielder. Does he see the ball? How far does he have to go to get it? Is there more than one fielder who thinks he has a play? Is anyone calling for the ball? Does the fielder look away from the ball? Even for a moment?

I try to get a glimpse of all of these things, but I am really big on the fielder’s eyes. When a fielder doesn’t see the ball, it’s usually obvious by his body language and movement. Neighbors in the pressbox have heard me say out loud more than once “He doesn’t see it”, long before the dropsies kick in. If you’re really watching, you KNOW when a fielder is going to drop a ball.

When a fielder takes his eyes off an incoming ball – to look at things like baserunners tagging up – I consider that action to be a misplay. Remember, a fielder’s number one responsibility is to get an out for the pitcher. Gunning down the baserunner is impressive and gets you on the big scoreboard, but not catching a “catchable” ball gets you on the big scoreboard as well:


Finally, whether or not the ball touches a fielders glove is an important but not conclusive factor in my opinion. For example, a fielder that can’t find a ball in the backdrop of a high sky might put his glove high above his head to shield his eyes. If the ball hits the outstretched glove before the fielder can locate the ball, I’m likely to score the play a hit since the fielder never had a “play”.

Judgment of ordinary effort – it’s the core of an Official Scorer’s responsibility. Know the ability level of the players you are watching, have a realistic sense of what is ordinary effort, and do your best to apply the rules in a fair accordingly.

It’s a simple game. Really.

Send your questions and comments to the mailbag.