Sunday, August 15, 2010

Tim Kurkjian and Box Scores

The best part about this Tim Kurkjian article on box scores isn't that he is showing readers a little bit of his private side, and how his clipping and recording of box scores for the last two decades has been a healthy and understandable obsession for a baseball writer.

The resonant thing is that we all have moved on from collections like this at one time or another in our lives, and how it's a part of growing older, of shifting priorities, and of appreciating why we did what we did for so many years--and why it is ok to stop at some point:

We interrupt the stretch run of this fascinating baseball season with something completely irrelevant, epically ridiculous and wildly unimportant. A most absurd streak quietly ended in 2010: For the first time since 1989, I no longer clip every box score of every baseball game from the nearest newspaper and tape each one into a spiral notebook, a daily task that I've estimated, at roughly 15 minutes per day, has cost me 40 days of my truly pathetic life.

This official announcement comes with some sadness because I love box scores. I've always loved box scores. From 1990-2009, I never missed one day of clipping and taping box scores, a streak that our best baseball fans must acknowledge is far more impressive than Cal Ripken playing in 2,632 consecutive games. On one memorable night in 2002, I went to bed at 11 o'clock, realized in horror I had forgotten to do my box score book, got dressed, clipped and taped my box scores, then lied down for a restful six hours of sleep as my wife looked at me and wondered how she could have married such an unfathomable geek.

Unlike Kurkjian, I'm hardly unfathomable. But as an obsessive collector and detailed task-oriented person, I could relate. (In fact, a fellow Son of mine used to cut out Calvin and Hobbes strips from the LA Times each day, and tape them in a spiral-bound notebook like Kurkjian.)

Congratulations Tim, on the end of an era.


Dave said...

From about 1974 to 1987, I kept two binders, one for the AL and one for the NL, in which I transcribed each team, its opponent, and numbers of hits, runs, and errors, carefully averaged at the end of each month.

In the back of the book was each team's record against every other team and division, and monthly standings.

Following this were play-by-play and boxscores for the All-Star Game, the playoffs, and World Series.

I totally understand Kurkjian.

Kyle Baker said...

I bow before you, Dave.

Kyle Baker said...

Weirdness, but I swear this is true (you can ask Mrs Dusty if you don't believe me).

I was reading this article and pondering Kurkjian's iron man streak, and how priceless it is, and how though I hadn't done anything like that in terms of time or complexity. And I was taken back to a time when tasks like collecting baseball cards or pasting team stickers in albums, etc., seemed like the most important thing in the world to me. Then I received a call from momma Dusty from Arkansas. She had been going through the attic and was excited to tell me about some old baseball stuff she had uncovered, including (and she's not exactly sure how to describe it) a pristine condition Dodgers program (magazine? play bill?) from the first game I attended at Dodger Stadium back in 1983 (vs. Braves). I couldn't help but get a bit weepy thinking of all this.

While I wish I had done something as cool as Kurkjian or Sax, I do revel in the fact that even as a young lad, I considered such memorabilia important enough to tuck it away so that I can enjoy the magazine all over again as an adult when I visit Conway next week. I can't imagine the feeling it must be for Kurkjian to go back and examine his collection of box scores over time. All props to the digital god, but I'd damn sure rather have a bunch of old notebooks brimming with fading clippings of box scores from games long forgotten.

Kyle Baker said...

Update: momma Dusty informed me that the program had space for the scotesheet originally, but that it was torn out and presumably lost to history. She distinctly remembers my having kept score during the game and having to be prompted to look up and watch more of the game. Soooooo unlike me now #iPhone

She also notes a long article on Bill Russell, an ad for Manny Mota baseball camp, and a Dusty Baker ad plugging some sort of vitamin (I'm assuming it was above board).

Can't wait to get to AR and check out this artifact.

Cc: Small Sample Size, Dittmore

karina said...

I bow before Kurkjian,Dave,Dusty,Sax and the nameless son.

Box scores are fascinating,they narrate a history from numbers.They are also beautiful in a classical way:they are symmetrical.

I share something like this too,but I'd rather not tell.

karina said...

thanks Sax for the link, I read it and I'm fascinated.Just told my brother to read it,he'll love it.I know we'll have bonding time over this.

Kyle Baker said...

ps- Thanks for inducing such a melancholy, pensive mood in the Baker household tonight as a result of reading this article, Sax. I feel like I need to put on some pajamas, eat a pint of ice cream, and curl up with my cat.

Neeebs (The Original) said...

Cleaning the garrote. And hiding behind Tim Kurkjian.

Neeebs (The Original) said...

Now to get the timing down.

Neeebs (The Original) said...


Neeebs (The Original) said...

Last test.

Neeebs (The Original) said...