Scorekeeping and Statistics, 19th Century Style
By John "Mr. New Jersey" Zinn
Like almost everything else in 19th century base ball, scorekeeping and statistics were handled differently than today. Henry Chadwick, sometimes known as the Father of Base Ball, was an early innovator in this field, using his experience as a cricket writer to develop a base ball scoring system that he continually refined. The Neshanock Base Ball Club of Flemington uses Chadwick’s 1860’s system to keep score during matches and compile player statistics.
The scoring system is very different from today. Instead of the modern 1 (pitcher), 2 (catcher), etc., Chadwick assigned fielding positions based on the player’s position in the batting order so the lead off batter is number 1 regardless of position. Chadwick used this system because of the frequency with which players changed position during a game. Perhaps somewhat ironically, this approach works well in today’s vintage game where teams frequently use more than nine players and position changes are also frequent. The only part of Chadwick’s system that survives today is the symbol "K" for a strikeout, which is based upon the last letter in the word "struck."
Chadwick’s system for compiling and reporting statistics also evolved over his long involvement in base ball. During the 1860’s, the primary emphasis was on runs and outs, with no reference to batting averages, runs batted in or even home runs. The 2011 statistical results for the Neshanock use Chadwick’s system for the 1863 season. Clear scores refer to games where a striker scored every time he appeared at the plate while blank scores refer to matches where the striker failed to score even once. Averages refer to the average number of runs scored and outs made during a match.