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How to Read a Baseball Scoreboard

By John Lindell

A scoreboard keeps spectators attending a Major League Baseball game informed about the statistics for the two competing teams, and also provides results from the American League and National League. Figuring out the intricacies of a scoreboard can be a bit overwhelming for first-time spectators. But once you know where to look and what the numbers mean, a game will become even more entertaining.

Study the main scoreboard for the game played at the stadium you are attending. Notice that there will be boxes for each team corresponding to an inning, with most stadium scoreboards going up to 10 innings. The home team will always be on the bottom and the visitor on the top. When a team scores, the runs appear in the box that matches the team and inning.

Look at the end of the columns and observe a box for runs, hits and errors. These statistics will change throughout the game, with the correct number for each team appearing as soon as a run or hit occurs or an error is committed. You may notice lights next to the letters "H" and "E" on some scoreboards; these indicate whether the official scorer ruled a play as a hit or an error as soon as the decision is made.

Check for the place on the scoreboard that designates balls and strikes. It may be a series of three lights for the balls and two for the strikes, so you can know the count on the batter by how many of each are illuminated. Other scoreboards will simply list the count numerically on the batter on a certain part of the board.

Observe the scoreboard and find the place that lists the statistics for each batter who appears at the plate. Often a picture of the hitter will come up on a large screen along with such pertinent information as batting average, home runs and runs batted in. Many scoreboards are capable of listing the lineups of both teams with their position, number and statistics.

Check the part of the scoreboard that contains the out-of-town scores. American League and National League scores usually have separate sections. Some scoreboards have the score of the contest followed by a number indicating what inning the game is in, with an "F" meaning the game is final. Others will give a box score similar to the one that exists for the game you are attending, with the home team on the bottom, the visitor on top, and the runs, hits and errors listed along the corresponding boxes. Many stadiums will add the number of the pitcher next to his team.

Examine the scoreboard and search for a place that offers information on the number of pitches thrown. Most major league parks can show the speed of the pitch, how many pitches the current pitcher has thrown and the ratio of balls to strikes of each pitcher.

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