My name’s Drew, and I’m a designer. That’s probably obvious. But what’s even better than getting to call yourself a designer is getting to think like one. When you think like a designer, you see philosophy and rationale in everything around you that creative minds and hands have shaped. When something inspires you, the goal becomes understanding it inside and out to the point that you can find and analyze a problem with it. You then get to approach this problem with a broad brush, finding its root causes and developing a thesis to influence all your design decisions–a “big idea”–to fix it. Finally, you package up your solution in a way that users find not only aesthetically pleasing but fundamentally impacts and (hopefully) improves their interactions with their activities and with others, both physically and psychologically. And there is no better feeling than seeing that enlightenment and satisfaction in their faces.
Enter my little design project: the Aficionado’s Scorebook for Baseball.
I’ve loved baseball for a long time. Growing up in the distinct (and original) “baseball town” of Cincinnati, its influence was always there but fully ushered my curiosity when Reds third baseman Aaron Boone visited my class at Ayer Elementary School, gave us baseball cards, and signed my t-shirt (cannot confirm if I still have the shirt at this time, but it definitely happened). I recognized a few of the names and faces on the front of the baseball cards from family outings to Riverfront Stadium (Cinergy Field, as I remember it), be they future hall-of-famers Barry Larkin and Ken Griffey Jr. to hometown favorites Sean Casey and Jason LaRue. But it was when I flipped the cards over that I began to pick up on the intricacies of this sport: the multiple statistics kept during games, the ratios and averages derived from those statistics, the 30 Major League teams (and how they have been shaped over the past 150 years), and the countless minor league teams, levels, and affiliations. And I find baseball to be a beautiful game to watch–human emotion between pitcher, batter, catcher, umpire, fielders, and baserunners on their own personal stages of a perfectly measured, beautifully trimmed canvas of clay and grass swirling around this little white ball with 108 little red stitches. Whether it’s in a sport or any other element of creation, you know you’ve discovered your interest to dissect as a designer when you pick up on these intricacies and find beauty and meaning in each of them.
You know what proves that there is beauty to be captured in those swirlings of emotion and stitching and dirt? The baseball scorecard. The scorecard interprets the starting lineup, the plate appearance, the scoreline, and any other observable instance on the diamond as interconnected diagrams orchestrated by the keen eye of the scorer. The game may proceed slowly and methodically, but it is at the perfect pace to mark down every occurrence. While I don’t score every game I attend, I appreciate the level of focus I attain when I watch the movement of players and the strategy of the opposing managers. And I couldn’t find a scorebook that encapsulated these emotions and optimally organized the information for recording and reminiscing. I had my design problem to solve.
As I’ve shared, the story of how I became a baseball fan is rather personal, and I know it is in wildly different ways for every baseball fan out there. With this in mind, my big idea was to preserve the crucial element of personalization. I wanted to create a scorebook that wouldn’t just hold stats, but symbolize memories that could be relished for years to come. I approached the individual scorecard through simplicity of organization. Each diagram–plate appearance, starting lineup, pitching, defense, in-game notes–is organized around the most critical developments in the game: innings played and runs scored. Individual statistics are included within the scoring lines to allow the user to record different statistics if desired, depending on what he or she finds important. Some scorecards I’ve seen have too many obscure items to tabulate, while others are so vague that they miss the essence of scoring a baseball game (I got one printed on magazine paper one time. Clearly not designed by someone who has ever used a pencil). For me, personalization meant meeting in the middle–include enough to be fully engaged, but make sure the scorecard is beautiful even if the scorer doesn’t want to track balls and strikes. And for the fellow southpaw scorers out there, I turned the card 90 degrees to get around that pesky binding.
The scorebook remains rugged yet pristinely organized, just like every baseball diamond or your favorite player’s routine before entering the batter’s box. A fill-in-the-blank table of contents organizes the book to the owner’s unique set of experiences. I chose to curtain-call this element of personalization with that which cannot be replicated: the signature. Player autographs are awesome (case and point: I’ll be digging through my parents’ collection of childhood artifacts for that shirt Aaron Boone signed when I visit them next), and my day job in architecture has led me to appreciate the weight that can come with a signature on a set of construction drawings. The clearest way I felt I could establish that this scorebook is a personal collection of memories was to provide a clear space on the front page for the owner to sign it and certify themselves as a baseball fanatic with virtuosic finesse. It is America’s pastime, after all.
Designing the Aficionado’s Scorebook for Baseball has been as immersive and enjoyable an experience as becoming such a die-hard baseball fan over my life has been. I designed the scorebook as I had time and inspiration and worked with Cedar Graphics out of Hiawatha, Iowa for production and fulfillment. If you’re a true “aficionado” who sees operatic grace in an AVG/OBP/SLG slash line, I hope you pick one up and treasure it as much as I’ve treasured preparing it. If you’re a passive baseball fan who enjoys some peanuts and Cracker Jack at the ballpark from time to time, maybe this can cultivate a more personal connection to the sport for you. And if you think baseball is boring and your local team stinks, I’m honored that you read this far and hope you too can think like a designer in a way that provides joy to as many people as you can reach.
Now then, was that a 4-6-3 or a 6-4-3 double play? Or did the manager put on a funky shift?