A late-season series between the San Francisco Giants and Boston Red Sox – a contest with virtually no postseason repercussions – is not meaningless. As soon as my dad received his ugly summertime diagnosis, I scouted tickets and air travel. I was ready to go. Instead, my New England family is coming west for a memorial this weekend.
These teams were my dad's favorites. I have the scorebooks to prove it. The earliest I've found is from '55, it features "Williams" slotted at left field written in tidy, eight-year-old penmanship. The park is Fenway. Decades later, Candlestick arrives. There's Dusty Baker in the OF and Krukow on the mound. The Red Sox appear, but the locations are Oakland and, later, Anaheim. The A's and Angels on those pages are simply the opposition, the flip-side.
We returned to the Bay Area in '95. He was at the last game in Candlestick and the first game at Pac Bell Park. By the aught years, my dad had moved to the East Bay. Giants in the scorebooks start drying up, essentially encasing the era between Clark and Kent. The next decade is almost exclusively A's/Sox contests. Occasionally, the A's are playing a different opponent. (the A's... an agreeable team that grows on you).
All told, I've unearthed about 63 years of baseball scored with a pencil pressed hard against the pages. My hand appears occasionally in the mid-80s, scoring an inning or two while my dad secured his sons hot dogs or nachos or ice creams.* For continuity, I tried to match his system. I added pressure. I drew eights as he did: two independent ovals, not a sinuous curve. I made sure errors were identified and attributed correctly. Asterisk stars highlighted good plays.
Like every scorekeeper, my dad had a system. It evolved and altered depending on the book's layout and the game itself. Lately, we discussed how to best score modern defensive shifts where a third baseman might spend an at-bat playing second base. Trivial details, to be sure. We were not solving the crisis of climate migration and war. Just keeping score.
I'm not sure if my dad revisited these books. They were buried deep in his garage. Maybe he'd planned to review his life watching baseball at a quiet point that never arrived. Or, perhaps, he hoped his sons might appreciate the tenacity and scrutiny of six decades of baseball iconically and numerically preserved.
We do. Despite the 4pm start times, I'm going to try to keep score for at least one game this week, as the grandson of Yaz arrives in Boston. These games mean a little something.
* In the image above – Yaz's final season – my nine-year old brother took a stab at player numbers and two-thirds of the first-inning, which included a Jim Rice pop-up to center-field (I suspect a pop-up since it apparently wasn't deep enough to score Boggs at third. Chad colored the wrong quadrant for a triple. Pretty sure that fourth corner is for a HR. The diamond in the middle is for a run scored. It's a confusing scorebook.).