Electronic Scorebook

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  • So we just had our opening week-ends here on the left coast and I was wondering if anyone else has run into this problem. Several of our local leagues have begun using an electronic IPAD app to keep scores for games. I guess the app works well but, I am not an Apple man myself! My question is how do we as umpires sign the "official book" if it is on an IPAD? And also where is that information kept other than on the hard drive of the IPAD. I can see issues coming up regarding protests information and suspended games. From what I have been told these IPADS belong to the individual scorekeeper/parent and are not league property, so I am not sure if the information is uploaded to a local league website or not. Any thoughts on the issue?

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  • The only thing I can think of Phil is that perhaps in light of recent technological advances, your league should review the policy of having umpires sign scorebooks. There is no current LL regulation that requires an umpire's signature so this matter only concerns the local league.

    To flip it a bit, perhaps the local league needs to review how prior game pitch counts can be verified by an opponent if the pitch count is only in electronic form. Perhaps while electronic scorekeeping devices can be utilized during the game, a paper pitch count form must be presented for an umpire's signature post game so that it can be signed by the umpire, if that is what the local league currently requires.

  • I've never understood why the umpire is signing the book after a game. Is he just verifying he was actually there? I mean, we don't handle the score down on the field, so I've never seen a need for it. Maybe it's a traditional thing, but my signature is only certifying my presence behind the plate, and nothing else.

    If an iPad can be networked, and reviewed in real time by the fans, that would be cool, or not. I hear Jimmy's Mom yelling about her son making an error now. Of course the dugouts would be excluded from getting that info in realtime. That is a novel idea, though.

  • That is an interesting dilemma. Personally, I think that the local league needs to continue to provide scorebooks for the official scorer.

    What would happen if Jimmy's Dad was the scorekeeper of the game between Cubs and the Mets, the game ended up in protest for whatever reason, the Protest Committee upholds the protest and decides to resume the game from the point of the protest, and when the Cubs and Mets get back onto the field, Jimmy's Dad is on travel and took his iPad with him?

    Or suppose Billy's Mom is keeping score on her Galaxy Tab, Billy gets hurt and she has to take him to the ER, and she's not leaving her device at the field for anyone else to operate?

    As for umpires signing the book, it is nothing more than verification that the book has the official scoring for the game. Don't forget that the scorer is part of the officiating team with the umpires on the field. By signing, the plate umpire validates that the score sheets are the official ones from the game.

    If your local league has some other method to ensure the score sheets from a certain game are official, that's fine. But if I show up to a game site, and the only books available are the ones that were issued to the teams--in other words, there is no separate book provided by the league and no scorekeeper in a booth--I'm signing the one I designated as official during pregame so that should anything happen afterwards, the league knows which book was official.

  • I'm sure the information could be uploaded right after the game, or even in real time. I'm not real worried about that virtual scorebook being in just one location.

    I wonder if these new apps have options for protests, or dealing with 7.13.

  • There are some baseball scoring apps for the various tablet OS's that post the stats real time up to the cloud. This allows parents to follow the games when they are not there. If they are using one of those apps then its possible that if there is a protest the score book is online and can be retrieved if needed. Most of the other apps allow you to email the scorebook and stats to yourself or others. That way they can be distributed and printed out if needed.

  • @ All - Little League licenses a free iTunes app through GameChanger that does all this. It was specifically created with wide latitude on the scoring situations particular to Little League, including Rule 7.13.

    It also allows anyone to follow along with that game thorugh the Internet. An upgraded service is available from the basic version. We have used the basic version at local games here, and it is very robust, easy to use, and quite intuitive.

    Information on the app is here:


    As for the Umpire-in_Chief signing the scorebook, we do not require that here at the LLB World Series. The app does allow for the Official Scorekeeper to enter his/her name, and the names of the umpires, however, for record-keeping purposes. There is no rule or regulation that requires any umpire to "approve" the final score or the scorekeeping decisions of the Official Scorekeeper.

  • Joe - you mean we can designate an area AWAY from the field where the parents can go and still be updated about the game without having to be screaming at the field? LOL. I'm all for it. Herd them up about 1000 feet away from the field and let them follow it electronically.

    Ok. That was more funny in my head then when I actually typed it. Crud. Sorry.

  • @Dave -

    Yep they can follow the games from China if they wish. Maybe we can convince most of the parents that this is the new way to participate in their kids athletics.

  • To tack on to what LL wrote. Here is a little more info on the interactive online component.


  • Phil... in college sports, everything is on laptops. Some folks still do a paper book / box to keep a manual back-up. But we also print copies of the box score for the official to sign, particularly in a sport like soccer whereas the official is signing off to verify cards and such. Other sports are volleyball and field hockey off the top of my head. I don't ever remember giving a box score to an umpire in baseball or softball, though, in my 18 years as an SID.

    The only time I remember a league signing scorebooks was a long time back when said league was paying umpires (ugh) and it was an additional check-balance. And even these days someone would be more apt to sign a voucher or, and this is the case even with some volunteers, the pitching log.

    I won't plug the stat program I use. LL HQ will shun me or remove my Golden Bucket. ;-)

  • Okay, so here's the follow on question:

    Are the coaching staffs in the dugouts allowed to electronically access the scorekeepers information in real time?

  • Yes, I believe that was part of why the PDA/cellphone rule was modified last year. So that someone in the dugout could be keeping the scorebook on a PDA.

  • I would also say yes for the same reason as Mike

  • Do these scoring aps allow for a "score sheet" to be printed out?

  • @ Kyle - We would agree with Mike and George, and consider such use as a scorekeeping and/or pitch counting application, which is specifically allowable under Rule 3.17. As long as the manager or coach is not communicating electronically with anyone (specifically prohibited by the rule), it would be OK.

  • @ Brian - Yes, as well as detailed statistics by game or season for teams and individuals.

  • Don't get me wrong from my previous post. I am all for using today's technology to assist in scorekeeping a game.

    But my situations I mentioned have not been addressed. What were to happen if the parent maintaining the score on his/her own tablet had to leave suddenly to attend to a family or job crisis? And the parent isn't willing to leave his/her device at the field because it's something he/she uses to maintain other information he/she will need to access during the crisis (not to mention the simple fact that these things are expensive, fragile, etc., and he/she won't want to just leave it at the park)?

    It has happened to me as a UIC on occasion where I start out with one person keeping score, and then when I look in the booth during the game, there's someone else in there. With a league-owned paper scorebook, it's not an issue. But with the GameChanger app on a personal iPad, it would be.

    If the league is willing to spend the big bucks to buy iPads for scorekeeping purposes, like I'm sure they do in Williamsport for the LLWS, that's great. But which local league out there is going to do THAT? You cannot compare what works well in Williamsport with what happens down at the local level.

  • Blasphemy! Now Manny will lose his Golden Bucket before I do. :-)

  • @Manny - If there is 3G or Wifi available at the park, the game will constantly be uploading to the GC servers, and a backup parent scorekeeper could continue to score it on any available iPhone or Droid -- and there are always plenty of those around. If there is no 3G or Wifi, or no iPhone or Droid, you could go to paper backup --- or you could just go to the visiting team's book or device.

  • @LLBS cc@Kyle

    I think Mike and George (and you) answered a different question than Kyle asked.

    I think everyone agrees that LL now allows the scorekeeper, whether they be in the dugout or in the stands, to use an electronic device to keep score. But that was not Kyle's question.

    Given that the GameChanger app syncs to the cloud in real time and allows anyone with a computer, ipad or iphone to see real time stats and other scorekeeping information, the question is...

    If the scorekeeping is _not_ being done in the dugout, but someone in the dugout has an iphone, can that person in the dugout access the GameChanger app to see what the Scorekeeper (in the stands) has recorded so far in the game? (including pitch counts, spray charts, etc.)

    It seems to me the answer has to be NO as this would violate the ban on electronic communication.

  • I think there's a very good reason for having a printed out version of the score book for the game. It's a record of the game for any of a number of reasons a Little League board will have to deal with, including playing time.

    So as long as manager can print out the score keeping from the game and have it be a part of their official scorebook, I'm not sure what the problem would be.

  • @ All - Again, we would consider such use as a scorekeeping and/or pitch counting application, which is specifically allowable under Rule 3.17. We don't say the person in the dugout has to actually be doing the scorekeeping.

    (Keep in mind, the word "application" has more than one...ummm...application, in this context. It does not necessarily limit it to an "app.")

    In fact, we have a large electronic digital readout on the wall in each of the dugouts at Lamade and Volunteer Stadiums here in Williamsport, giving the real-time pitch count. Under Mark's interpretation, because someone from outside the dugout is clicking a button on a computer that makes the number on the "electronic device" in the dugout increase by one, we are violating the rule.

    We are not. Instead, we consider that the "application" being used in the dugouts is a scorekeeping device. It makes no difference that it is being operated remotely. In fact, if we gave each manager a hand-held device that relayed the readout to them, it would be the same thing. The fact that the device also tells them who's up next, who has yet to play, etc., would be immaterial.

    We do agree with the idea of maintaining a paper copy of the scorebook, to prevent Manny's situation, as well as other possible problems that could arise, e.g., batteries dead, spilling a soda on the keyboard, detonation of a high-altitude electromagnetic pulse device. (One suspects, however, in the case of the latter, there would be other more pressing issues to deal with aside from the proper scoring of the game.)

    In fact, we keep a paper book and an electronic book at the LLB World Series, with the paper book being "official." A technical glitch in that case is pretty much limited to a broken pencil lead.

  • Wow this was my first post here and I am glad to have been responsible for such an interesting set of opinions. And even a couple of interpretations from the Mothership in WP!

    In my humble opinion I must say that I am all for technology and I am sure that electronic scorekeeping is here to stay, however I do feel that the paper scorebook or "hard copy" is still needed at this point in time. Thanks everyone.

  • @LLBS

    With respect to the pitch count being on a readout in the dugout, I would consider that moving (or copying) part of the scoreboard from the outfield to the dugout. Also, this is communication from the _official_ scorekeeper/pitch counter to the manager/team. I don't see this as a violation of 3.17.

    Kyle's question, on the other hand, was about (electronic) communication from the _team_ scorekeeper, in the stands, to the manager/coach in the dugout.

    Alternatively, based on what you wrote, is it ok for the manager and (paper-based) scorekeeper, to exchange text messages about the content of the scorebook or is this prohibited by 3.17?



  • @ Mark - Actually, the official scorekeeper here at the LLBWS is not the person who relays the pitch count via computer to the dugout electronic readout. The official scorekeeper keeps the paper book, and only the paper book.

    It's not even the person who maintains the electronic book. It's also not the scoreboard operator.

    It's a person whose sole job it is to maintain the electronic pitch count - and that person is not the official counter. (That's the official scorekeeper, a fact made clear to the managers.)

    The pitch count they have in the dugout on the electronic device at the LLBWS is neither official, nor is it necessarily the count that is being maintained on paper officially. We just do it to be nice, and it does constitute an electronic device for the manager, but not a "communications" device as it pertains to this rule.

    Again, we would not consider it "communication" for the manager to have an electronic device that allows him/her to follow along with a scorekeeper, official or otherwise.

    That's why the rule was changed -- for the sake of good ol' common sense. So if the manager has a device that lets him know that his pitcher needs to be removed, preventing a protest, it's a good thing.

    We as umpires should not be looking for ways to impose rules in ways for which they were not intended. In our umpire clinics, those who have a desire to work their way into higher levels are told not to have "rabbit ears."

    So we, as an reasonable umpire, can make a distinction between these three things, and act accordingly:

    1. Billy hits a home run. Upon crossing the plate, the Billy's mom (from behind the backstop) says, "I'm so proud of you Billy," as tears are running down her face. Billy replies, "Thanks, mom!"

    2. Manager's spouse is keeping a "team" book (or not keeping a book at all) in the stands. He yells to his wife, the manager of the team, "Don't forget to put Billy in this inning," or "Tommy's up to 77 pitches."

    3. Manager's husband is just beyond the center field fence with binoculars. He has semaphore flags (you Navy guys will know what that is), relaying information to his wife, the manager, on signals the catcher is giving to the pitcher.

    Are all three "violations" of the rule, from a strict technical perspective? Yes.

    No. 1, going by the letter of the rule, is the worst vilolation. After all, it was, in fact, a TWO-way communication between a game participant and a fan. Scenarios 1 and 2 are just ONE way messages. Are we going to prevent No. 1 as the umpire? Certainly not. That would be silly. But then, that's just common sense.

    What about No. 2? We're probably going to let that one go, too, as long as it is infrequent. Heck, the guy is actually helping us, by preveting a possible protest. Stopping that sort of thing -- again, if it's not going on all the time -- is not the intent of the rule. We'd be a lot more concerned if the husband was shouting advice every other batter. But then, again, that's just common sense.

    Are we going to prevent No. 3? Definitely, yes.

    Your final question is a different matter, however. If there are messages being exchanged, then it is a communications issue, and should be prevented.

  • @LLBS - thanks very much for the detailed followup and your patience in answering my questions.

  • LLB&S said, "We do agree with the idea of maintaining a paper copy of the scorebook, to prevent Manny's situation, as well as other possible problems that could arise, e.g., batteries dead, spilling a soda on the keyboard, detonation of a high-altitude electromagnetic pulse device. (One suspects, however, in the case of the latter, there would be other more pressing issues to deal with aside from the proper scoring of the game.)

    I never dreamed I would ever see reference to HEMP on this board [LOL!] But even if that should happen, the game could go on as long as it wasn't a night game being played under the lights.

    However, if I were one of the umpires in this case, I suspect I would have to leave and make it back to the Pentagon right away...if my Jeep would start.

  • Honestly, the electronic cat is out of the bag. There's no possible way to determine if a coach, on his tablet, is just scoring, or watching a live feed from a centerfield camera, and getting IMs about batting out of order. We've gone far beyond the thinking of the first attempt to ban electronics in the dugout.

    So, unless a coach is on his phone, blabbing to someone, or, is too distracted on the bases to pay attention to baseballs being fouled off toward his head, it's now a non-issue for me.

    Now, what I want is a heads-up display for the sunshield of my mask, that shows the count, outs, IFF in effect, etc. Get on that, Geeks. Then get to work on a synthetic aperture radar unit to work on my strikezone.

  • Google is supposed to start selling Android-based heads-up glasses in the fourth quarter of this year. They will include a camera, so I would think an ap that does everything you ask could come along pretty son after that.

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