During a recent interview with Bethany Heck, she let slip that little phrase. ”The art of scorekeeping”. I must admit, it seems poetic and it epitomizes precisely why I sought her out.
You see, Bethany Heck, a graphic designer that focuses primarily on web design, is the proprietor of Eephus League Baseball. A project that grew from her work at Auburn University and eventually found its way to Kickstarter to provide the world with a simple, clean, and easy way to bring basic record keeping back into focus.
I knew I wanted to do a baseball project and I started gathering visual inspiration and breaking down my favorite aspects of the game. I settled on the unifying theme of “minutiae”; the special things that spring up around the game of baseball, and I started planning out the website and wrote and illustrated a small book to go along with it. I decided last minute that a scorebook would be a nice thing to add on to the project and I really wanted to make another physical object to go along with the site.
Enter Paul Lukas of Uni Watch. Heck thought he would enjoy the site, so she sent him a link. The link led to an interview, the interview led to massive exposure for the site, and the exposure led to people clamoring to get their hands on the scorebook. A commenter on the site suggested using Kickstarter, a funding platform for creative projects, to fund the venture. The Kickstarter campaign generated over $27,000 and sold over 1,000 scorebooks, nearly twice what Heck had aimed for.
My goal was to create a scorebook that would be easy for anyone, kids to adults, to use and would bring a new perspective to scorekeeping. In my opinion, as scorekeeping has aged it’s become less universal and more specialized towards a certain type of fan. I wanted something small and fun to bring to the ballpark that would look great and lend itself to more casual scorekeeping. Most modern scorebooks are extremely complicated and almost force you to keep score a certain way, so I wanted to keep the grid itself simple. I also included lines for noting certain details about the trip to the ballpark. Scorecards are really time capsules of games so I wanted to push that idea. There’s a fold out guide for first time scorekeepers, a reference card for common abbreviations and a set of stickers for signifying whether your team won or lost.
Heck admits to not keeping score on a regular basis during her youth, though her father did teach her and she would do so sporadically. She grew up watching Braves games with her family, playing softball and collecting baseball cards. It was a Braves game that provided her with her earliest baseball memory:
I can remember going to my first Braves game at Fulton County Stadium. I had a Braves jacket and a shirt and we got a tomahawk and a pennant outside the gates. David Justice was my favorite player at the time so I asked where he was in the outfield and my dad pointed out to the Hooter’s ad and some something like “He’s over there, by the… owl.” They also gave out a Braves Duffel bag (which recently perished) and a pack of Lays sponsored cards (I’ve still got the Javy Lopez card that came in the pack).
Baseball cards played a big part in Heck’s young life. However, he memories of the cards she collected leads here quickly to the elusive card she never could get, the 1995 Leaf Statistical Standout insert card for Frank Thomas.
I had an old SI Kids issue that had an ad in it for Leaf’s 1995 set of cards, and it featured Frank Thomas, who was my favorite player post-Justice. I’d look at it all the time and covet this card but at the time I had no way to acquiring it. I went to a lot of card shops and always looked for it and never found it, and now, I could probably get one, but I think it’s better than it always remain unattainable.
It was easy to see during our conversations that she loves the game. It left one key question out there, however: Why “Eephus League”?
I wanted a unique name and I was doing some type tests with the script I had just bought to use for the logo, and I tried “Eephus” and it was just perfect. I essentially let the font decide the name! A lot of my professors were unsure about the name but I was hopeful that people who were baseball fans would recognize the word and in the end I think most of them do.
You can visit Eephus League Baseball on the web by clicking here. Make sure to drop by the shop and pick up your own Eephus League Scorebooks for the upcoming season while you are there.
Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
Follow him on Twitter here.