On May 13, 2009 Richard Barbieri attended the Mets game at CitiField. That game was the last to fit in his current scorebook, which has served him since September of 2002. Richard looks back at some of the 99 games of history contained within.
As I probably have mentioned before, whenever I attend a baseball game in person, I keep score. I was taught how to keep score by my father, and still use—with a couple of modifications—his system. While I used to purchase the scorecards at each game, as my baseball fandom moved from “obsessive” to “possibly unhealthy,” I bought a scorebook to log my games.
This served the dual purpose of saving me from shelling out for a scorebook every game (that’s probably somewhere in the $300-400 range at this point) and gave me something more solid to keep. Somewhat impossible to believe, I have now filled that scorebook, a full 99 games.
(Technically speaking, my scorebook holds 100 games. But due a screw-up on my part involving a skipped page and an unwillingness to score a game in the book out of chronological order, I have only 99. That’s just something we’ll have to live with.)
To honor the scorebook, and see what my memory is like, we’ll look back at some of the highlights, notable events and oddities.
First game: Yankees at Orioles, Sept. 27, 2002
Not—it must be said—an especially memorable game on its own merits. The Yankees had won their 100th game two days before and were in playoff tuneup mode, while the Orioles were simply dreadful and in get-us-home-already mode.
Perhaps the most notable event was Mariano Rivera’s appearance in the eighth inning, recovering from a shoulder injury. Joe Torre did not want to push his closer, so the greatest reliever of all time found himself setting up for Steve Karsay. Also setting up this day was Orlando Hernandez, getting himself ready for the postseason.
The Yankees won the game 6-2, putting it away with five runs in the eighth and ninth.
First international game: Phillies at Expos, May 24, 2003
Based on my desire to see a game in Olympic Stadium before its closure (and drink legal ballgame beer), my parents and I took a road trip to Montreal. Stories about the empty, desolate Stade Olympique are legion—the Expos were already playing some of their games in Puerto Rico by now—but I wouldn’t know anything about that.
And that’s because we went to the Expos on $1 (Canadian) hot dog night and while the people of Montreal might not have supported baseball, they sure liked cheap chien-chaud. Attendance was 33,236, the Expos’ second highest of the season. (Incredibly, it outdrew Opening Day by a huge margin.)
Fans saw a good game: The Expos won on a walk-off home run by Wil Cordero. Unfortunately, the crowd was apparently not impressed; attendance dropped by nearly half the next day.
Fastest game: Pirates at Yankees, June 16, 2005
The speed of this game is largely thanks to Randy Johnson. In one of his few really great starts for the Yankees, Johnson pitched a complete game, allowed just five hits and one run and struck out 11. This also probably qualifies as the best-pitched game reflected in the scorebook.
It was also the only game I saw in which a former President—Bill Clinton—appeared before the game, to collect an oversized check for charity. Not surprisingly for a team located in the state that has elected his wife U.S. senator, he got a nice hand.
Longest game, nine innings: Yankees at Orioles, Sept. 27, 2005
I had never realized this, but three years to the day after my first game with the scorebook, I was back at Camden Yards to watch the Orioles and Yankees play. That first game was no sprint (it came in at just under three and a half hours); this one was simply endless. The Yankees lost 17-9, which did nothing to brighten my mood, but the 4:16 running time—that’s more than 15 minutes for every half inning—only made things worse.
The two teams combined to allow 15 walks and five home runs, while Baltimore committed four errors (and won)! It was an ugly game all-around, and longer than all but a handful of even my extra-inning games. It takes a lot for me to be antsy at a ballgame, but this one did it.
Longest game, extra innings: Red Sox at Orioles, April 8, 2004
Blame those Orioles. This one went 13 innings, and ended when the Sox’ Bobby M. Jones (that’s the right-handed, less good Bobby Jones) walked the bases loaded and then walked in the winning run. I played hooky from classes at GW to spend the day in Baltimore—I left on a morning commuter train—and was therefore rather ready to be home by the time the game finally ended at 11:45.
The game was played in something of a drizzle for all 13 innings and while it wasn’t cold, per se, it definitely wasn’t warm. By the time the 12th inning rolled around, the remaining people in the park began rooting for whichever team was atthe plate, eager for someone to score and get us out of the rain. And speaking of weather…
Coldest game: Nationals at Mets, April 13, 2007
I have never, I mean, never been as cold as I was at the end of this game. Game time temperature is listed as 46, but it must have been at least 15 degrees colder by the end. In the ninth, the Nationals sent up a pinch-hitter, his name in my scorebook appears to have been written with a squiggly pen. In fact, it was a regular pen; I just couldn’t control my shivering as I wrote.
Worst game: Indians at Yankees, Aug. 31, 2004
You might remember that a couple of weeks ago the Tribe pounded the Yankees to the tune of 22-4. Well, that’s nothing. On this day, the Indians scored 22, while the Yankees scored none, the worst loss in Yankee history. Lowlights included no pitcher allowing fewer than four runs, a 9-0 hole by the third inning, and not one but two three-run homers in the ninth inning.
Attendance was 51,777, of whom perhaps 777 remained by the time the Yankees mercifully made three outs in the ninth inning.
Best game: Orioles at Yankees, June 2, 2004
There’s nothing too special about this game. It wasn’t a perfect game, or a playoff clincher or anything like that. But it was a Yankees win—always crucial—and I went with my mom and dad, easily my most frequent ballgame companions for this scorebook.
The Yankees went down big early (5-0 after the first inning) and slowly rallied back, starting with a three-run Gary Sheffield home run. In the sixth, the Yankees took the lead and after a little ninth-inning drama (go-ahead run on base) Rivera nailed down the save.
So my parents and I got to walk out of the Stadium singing joyfully with “New York, New York” after a big comeback. Hard to top that.