If you hear the name L.L. Bean, thoughts of boots and parkas will probably come to mind. The company is synonymous with New England and quality goods for hunting, fishing, camping, and other outdoor activities. L.L. Bean the company was started by L.L. Bean the person in 1912. Born in Greenwood Maine in 1872, Bean was a lifelong baseball fan, a Red Sox season ticket holder, and the inventor of a “simplified” version of scoring a baseball game.
“L.L. Bean’s Simplified Baseball Score Book” was published in 1954 and sold for thirty-five cents. In his book The Joy of Keeping Score, Paul Dickson says “L.L. Bean of Freeport Maine came out with his own system, which was a reaction to the fact that more and more games were being played at night.” On the first page of the scoring guide, Bean says “The symbols are large enough to make easy scoring for those attending night games,” and adds “The system is so simple even a child can use it.”
Bean’s system has five symbols that you can use to score an entire game; a line with a dot at the end for a hit, a W for a walk, an E for an error, FC for fielder’s choice, and a circle for an out.
A series of dots, dashes, and numbers help to distinguish the different plays and to keep track of the outs, runs, and hits. In the back of the book he elaborates to include “D” inside a circle for a double play, dots at the top of the box to indicate fly-outs, and dashes on a circle to indicate ground outs.
The book teaches the system by scoring game two of the 1953 World Series between the Dodgers and the Yankees.
The book is subtitled on the cover as “Especially Adapted for the average Baseball Fan.” Bean said “In order to enjoy a better baseball game, keep a more accurate record for future reference, and stimulate enthusiasm in the new fans, especially the ladies and children, to learn how to keep score, I have created this simplified easy system of keeping score…” He was trying to make score keeping a more accessible pursuit for the everyday fan. With all of the symbols and notation, keeping score can be an intimidating activity for someone who is just starting. Just like he had with outdoor equipment, Bean saw this as a way to introduce something he loved doing to his customers so they could share in his passion.
Dickson notes “In typical Bean fashion the system is pragmatic and clearcut, but it never caught on. Perhaps it was too simple and therefore imprecise.” In the copy of the book I have, the original owner begins by using Bean’s system, but slowly drifts back into the traditional system of keeping score. But this seems to have been Bean’s intent. The simplified system is to introduce baseball fans into the fun of score keeping, allowing them to learn, and eventually progress to the more advanced, accurate, and widespread version of score keeping that is used in baseball parks around the country.