I am a baseball FANATIC. It’s the only sport I ever wanted to play as a kid. But I fell out of love with baseball (and sports in general) during my high school years. In a small town like the one I grew up in, you get pigeon-holed into cliques and “types” of people. You couldn’t be an art kid and be in sports. You couldn’t love punk rock and baseball stats. So when it came time to choose, I chose rock ’n roll, hanging out with the punks and the nerds. They just spoke more to me. But as I grew up, I came back to baseball.
There is something about baseball that attracts the nerds. The stats are there for the numbers geek. The defensive positioning and lineup creation there for the strategy guy. Each battle between a great pitcher and a great hitter is like a chess match…who is looking 5 steps ahead and tricking who? But a chess move is a decision, it is made and there it is. A pitch has to be executed. You decide on your move, but you can’t know whether it’s gonna hit it’s spot or not. If the ball hits the bat just slightly higher or lower than perfect, that’s the difference between a home run or a pop up out. Slightly left or right determines a strike on the corner of the plate, or a ball…there’s also the human element: you have a person making that decision.
Branch Rickey said “Baseball is a game of inches”…I say it’s more like a game of millimeters.
The Eephus League Halfliner Scorebook is a sight to behold for baseball nerds like myself, but also a cool item to have for the stationery and design nerd. Scorebooks are traditionally throw away items. I remember my Dad having a ton of these blue-inked Scoremaster books for his softball teams. Spiral bound, they were never closed, so I couldn’t even tell you what the cover looked like. He just threw them into his bat bag and forgot about them until next game. When looking for a scorebook, I asked him about them, and he said he didn’t even remember why he chose that brand, “probably because that’s what they had”. I looked into one, and they’re just like I remember it: blue and an eye chart. And not updated for the modern game. There are only 3 spots for pitchers and 1 sub spot under each batter in the order. The creators of the Halfliner are obviously fans of the National League: there is space for seven pitchers (one starter and six in relief) and 2 subs under each batter. That’s also different from the Original Scorebook, which is smaller and therefore only uses 1 sub per spot.
The Halfliner allows you to score 81 games, half of the 162-game regular season…hence the name. It is spiral bound with heavy Double Wire-O binding. It has a pitch black cover with their logo blind-embossed on the cover. It is made of heavy cover stock, however the specs are not available on their website or inside the book, so I can’t say exactly how heavy. The back is made of a similar-weight light chip board. Black as well.
After opening the cover, you’re greeted with a blast of butcher orange paper, 6 pages explaining how to score a game, if you’re new to scorekeeping or just need a refresher. Then comes the fun part: the actual score card pages.
The layout is clean and modern. The two pages opposite each other are very similar, except that one has a section for Game Day details, like where you’re at, where you sat, how the weather was, who is home and away, and how you’re viewing the game (tv or at the park). The other page has a section for notes, the umpire list (so you can track who is squeezing your pitchers over the season!), and the final box score.
The individual boxes are void of any extras, so you can score however you choose. There is no set spot for balls and strikes, no hit indicators to circle. It’s just a clean square with a diamond inside. For me, this is preferable. I have bigger handwriting and I like to use a dark, soft pencil. This allows space for me to make the marks I want to make without having to navigate around someone’s idea of what I should be tracking, instead of what I want to track.
I couldn’t find any paper specs, but it feels like at least 60# paper, though I’m not the best judge of that. It has a decent tooth to it, so it tears into a soft pencil like a Blackwing 602 pretty good. If you’re scoring at home, that’s not a big deal, you can just sharpen the pencil. Out at the game, though, I’d recommend bringing an HB at least, if not an F. Or just take your sharpener of choice along for the ride and leave the shavings next to the peanut shells. Use the back couple pages to get an autograph while you’re there.
If it sounds like I like this thing, you’re right, I do. However, there are a few things that I would improve. The Double Wire-O binding is a little too small for the amount of pages. It would be nice to be a bit bigger to give the pages a little room to move more freely, especially at the front and back of the book. I debated pulling out the first few butcher orange directions and the back autograph pages to give it a little more room to turn, but I just decided to be careful with it instead. Maybe I’m spoiled by Write Notepads, but the Double Wire-O binding feels a little weak to survive half the baseball season without getting bent up, especially if you plan on throwing it in your bag and hauling it to the ballpark on a regular basis.
The other thing I don’t like is the order of the final stats columns. I wish it followed the stat lines in the official box scores on MLB.com. The MLB order is AB - R - H - RBI - BB - SO - LOB. The Halfliner has AB - R - H - BB - LOB - RBI, with no spot for strikeouts. With strikeouts so prevalent in the modern game, it’s a stat worth tracking. I would even argue more important than the Left On Base stat. The instructions on how to score a game are enough to get you started, but if you are a complete newbie to it, you’re going to want to find an additional reference, as these instructions are very introductory.
Overall, the Eephus League Halfliner Scorebook is a hipster baseball nerd’s wet dream. Its cool retro look is great for the Field Notes crowd, but the design of the actual scoring pages is minimalist enough for the stats-nerd to make it their own.
Available at the Eephus League, $30
Disclaimer: I bought this thing myself, so there is nothing to hide!