When Derek Jeter’s wide throw pulled Jason Giambi off the bag in the opening inning of Sunday’s Yankees-Indians game, “E-6” was the reaction of a great many fans. When Asdrubal Cabrera was credited with a base hit seconds later, the reaction of those same fans turned to “E-Official Scorer.” With “Who scores these games anyway?” the inevitable question when calls like that are made, I asked Charlie “Chaz” Scoggins, the primary official scorer at Fenway Park for nearly 30 years, for the answer.
David Laurila: Who scores post-season games?
Chaz Scoggins: The scorers who work in that city during the regular season also do the scoring in the playoffs. Unlike the last 20 years or so, when I did the bulk of the scoring during the regular season, we had four scorers at Fenway Park in 2007. Only two, apparently, will share the scoring during the post-season. As I understand it, MLB wants only the more experienced official scorers working in the shadows of the national limelight, so Mike Shalin and I will be doing the scoring. Now if MLB only assigned umpires to post-season games under the same system …
DL: Who assigns the official scorers?
CS: The scoring assignments are made by the home club’s PR department, subject to approval by MLB.
DL: Have there been any changes to the procedure over the years?
CS: When I started covering Major League Baseball in 1973 and began official scoring in 1978, and there was only the LCS and the World Series, there were two scorers assigned to work the LCS and three to work the World Series. In the LCS one scorer from each participating city was assigned. You’d think that there would be some calls on which two scorers might disagree, and there would be no one to break the tie, but that was never a problem — at least in the 16 ALCS games I’ve scored. The scorers all agreed that in the event of a disagreement, the decision of the scorer in the home city would prevail, but I can’t ever recall a time when we disagreed. I do, however, recall that during the ALDS in Cleveland in 1995, the scorer had a tough time interpreting the rules on a couple of occasions. For some reason we weren’t seated next to one another, and we weren’t able to consult before he announced his rulings. I had to seek him out and explain why his calls were incorrect, and he changed them.
DL: When did the LCS change to one official scorer?
CS: A few years ago — I don’t know exactly when because it must have happened during those years when the Red Sox didn’t make the playoffs — MLB decided to have just one scorer at LDS and LCS games, and that would be the home scorer. I don’t know MLB’s rationale for this, but I imagine that the unavailability of a scorer from the visiting city might have been a key factor. As fewer and fewer members of the BBWAA — I am a member — were allowed to serve as official scorers, and the duties were increasingly performed by people outside the arena of Major League Baseball, I’m sure it became more difficult to find somebody from the visiting city who was qualified to serve as the other scorer. MLB certainly did not want to pick up the tab to fly a second scorer in and put him up in a hotel. I know that post-1980, when baseball writers stopped scoring under orders from their newspapers because of a perceived conflict of interest, I often had a “celebrity” scorer working with me in Boston. By that I mean a traveling writer who had formerly been a scorer who was granted a temporary exemption by his newspaper to score the LCS or World Series. I say “celebrity” because in almost all of those instances, it had been so long since they’d actually scored that they were unsure of themselves and the rules and usually deferred to me on all decisions. But now there are so few former writers around who ever scored, that is no longer a viable option for MLB.
DL: How about in the World Series?
CS: For nearly 100 years the World Series was scored by a committee of three. There was one scorer from each participating city plus a neutral scorer. This system was still in place when I served as the neutral scorer in the 2000 World Series between the Yankees and Mets, but when I scored the 2004 World Series between the Red Sox and Cardinals the system had changed. Only the scorer from the home city was effectively handling the chores. As I understood it, the scorer from the visiting city was available to be consulted, but in reality it wasn’t practical. In Boston the “scorer” from St. Louis was seated next to me, but he was a “celebrity” scorer who had newspaper work to attend to, and he was seldom in his seat during the course of the game. In St. Louis the home scorer was seated in the press box behind home plate while I was seated in an auxiliary press box out in right field. There would have been no way for us to communicate in a timely fashion, had it become necessary. Up through 1999, scorers in Boston were assigned for an entire series. The scorers would decide among themselves which one would score the ALDS, ALCS, and World Series — if the Red Sox got that far. By the time the Red Sox returned to the post-season in 2004, MLB had apparently decided that scoring duties should be shared in every round in cities where there were multiple scorers. Now, in Boston, the scorers rotate throughout the post-season.
DL: What are the most controversial, scoring decisions you’ve been involved with?
CS: I have, to date, scored 39 post-season games. I can only recall one somewhat controversial decision, and more than 20 years later it is still controversial, which baffles me. In Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, Red Sox catcher Rich Gedman couldn’t handle a pitch thrown by Bob Stanley in the 10th inning. There were three official scorers then, and there wasn’t even a debate. All three of us immediately concluded it had been a wild pitch. The scoring committee was seated in the main press box, and there wasn’t a single yelp of protest heard from the writers, a few of whom will always disagree with any scoring decision. By the next morning when the papers came out, the ball bounding through Bill Buckner’s legs seemed almost secondary to whether or not Gedman should have been charged with a passed ball. Why should anyone care what the ruling was? Naturally, as scorers who take pride in what we do, we want to get the call right. But the three of us were confident, comfortable, and unanimous in our ruling. Ultimately, the only thing that mattered was that the pitch went to the backstop. Whether it was a wild pitch or a passed ball was, bottom line, immaterial. To this day, whenever I read or hear something about the events in the bottom of the 10th inning of Game 6, the wild pitch/passed ball subject is resurrected, too. I just don’t get it.
DL: Have you seen any scoring decisions so far this year, either at the ballpark or on television that you found noteworthy?
CS: I haven’t been able to watch every inning of every post season game, but from what I’ve seen, I can’t recall any scoring decisions I would characterize as bad or even controversial. I guess my brethren and I are doing a good job, eh? Except for the neverending Stanley/Gedman controversy, of course.