10/23/2021 13:03:07
URL for full object,
Citation for full object (Spalding baseball collection, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library)
Filename in shared drive folder
General description of the complete original artifact
The game of baseball has been documented by many people throughout the 1800s - 1900s. In this archive, I take a look into Spalding's baseball collection, which spans between 1845 to 1913, containing everything from official scorecards to scrapbooks, diaries and newspaper clippings. Spalding is regarded as one of the founding fathers of baseball as he wrote a detailed history of the game and played a critical role in forming the National League (which still exists today). For the focus of this assignment, I only looked at the scorecards, as the other collections did not meet the requirements for this assignment, and there were way too many things to look at. During this timespan, baseball was not the way it was today, as there were different leagues separated by region and race. In particular, I looked through hundreds of scorecards for games played by early New York City, Boston, and Cincinnati ball clubs. My goal was to follow the games based on only the scorecard. The score cards are meant to be able to trace the game. Baseball is a numbers game, where each side gets 9 innings to score bases. The score card follows each player for those 9 innings, and marks their contribution to the game on offense by hits, while tracking the final score of the game. It also has information about each player's defensive position. One thing to note is that the score cards are different than today's. The overall format is relatively consistent with the ones we see today on ESPN, but one major difference is that many of these games were played before the modern rules were set. I was convinced I was reading the cards wrong, later to realize that the rules were different. Additionally, different leagues also had different rules, so depending on what league you were looking at, you could also get different results. In terms of the actual score cards themselves, they were in decent condition. However, the legibility was heavily dependent on who was scoring the card. Many of the cards reminded me of a doctor's handwriting, in the way it was scribbled on. Additionally, some of the scorers did not fill out all of the fields. Sometimes, the stolen bases were left empty, alongside the putout column. Thankfully, some of these cards have been digitalized on archive sites, so I was able to still trace the games.
Estimated number of records in data set
Estimated number of fields if this were a database
Estimated time to digitize all records in set (hours)
Time period when data was created
1845 - 1913
Organization creating data
Spalding personal collection, Henry Chadwick, and the ball clubs involved (Cincinnati Red Stockings, Brooklyn teams)
Individual who created data (if known or guessable).
Spalding collected them, unsure who created it all.
Shortcomings of this taxonomy for data set (if any)
Some entries of scorecards are incomplete. The main game score and offensive contributions are traced, but some of the smaller details have been left out.
Notes about the image you chose
This is a 1888 match between Brooklyn and Baltimore. Both sides represent each team. On the left, you have Brooklyn and on the right, you have Baltimore. Each name listed represents each player, and the position that they started at. Then, you have a row listed 1 through 9, which represents that inning. Each number represents an out that was caused by that player. If you see the first column for Brooklyn's first inning, you can see that their three starting players all got out in order. The dots seem to represent a run batted in, as the total runs at the bottom are incremented correspondingly with the total number of dots in each column. A horizontal line seems to represent a walk. On the right side of the scorecard, there are additional stats that can be traced, such as runs by player, bases hit, stolen bases, put outs, and errors. While in this game there seems to be none, those statistics can also tell a story. For instance, there was one game before this score card that had a bunch of errors in the later innings, and the game was cut early due to lack of light at the end of the seventh inning. We can see that Brooklyn won this contest (8-5) at their home. Their offense contributed consistently for many innings, whereas Baltimore's scoring came from one single explosive inning. While it was impressive, and probably scared the Brooklyn defense, it was not enough. It seems that Brooklyn's MVP was Orr who got 3 hits and stole 2 bases. Baltimore's best player was probably Greenwood on second base, with two solid hits.