For obstetrician and scorekeeper, road leads to Target Field
Kyle Traynor started his fourth season Tuesday night as the official scorekeeper for the Rochester Honkers. Contrast that to 11 days ago. Traynor was doing the same job — official scorekeeper — but it was a couple of steps up from the Northwoods...
Kyle Traynor started his fourth season Tuesday night as the official scorekeeper for the Rochester Honkers.
Contrast that to 11 days ago.
Traynor was doing the same job — official scorekeeper — but it was a couple of steps up from the Northwoods League.
He was the official scorekeeper for the Minnesota Twins and Seattle Mariners game at Target Field.
It was May 17, a day Traynor will never forget.
"I was excited, of course,'' Traynor said, "but definitely nervous, too. No doubt about it.''
Traynor is an obstetrician at Mayo Clinic — his day job — but he also moonlights for the Honkers, working their 36-game home schedule at Mayo Field.
And here is where it gets interesting. For the past several years, Twins organist Sue Nelson — The Organ Lady — has performed at least once a summer for the Honkers.
Last year, Traynor and Nelson got to talking.
"Sue happens to know one of the scorekeepers working Twins games (Gregg Wong),'' Traynor said, "and she knew how much I loved keeping score. I gave her my card, and she promised to pass it along to Gregg.''
"Eventually, Gregg got in touch with me,'' Traynor said, "and we connected right away. He's been my mentor. He knows how much I love doing this.''
Wong, a former sports writer with the St. Paul Pioneer Press, and noted author Stew Thornley are the two scorekeepers for the Twins. It should be noted they are not Twins' employees; scorekeepers are hired by Major League Baseball.
Wong and Thornley each work a half schedule (41) of home games. And when Thornley is not keeping score, he works as the online gamecaster for MLB.
What happened was that Wong and Thornley needed a backup.
Traynor was prepared.
"The baseball rulebook is very complicated,'' he said, "and I hadn't studied that hard since I took the medical board exam.''
He got the job, approved by MLB, and was scheduled to work a pair of games this summer, June 30 against Kansas City and July 26 against the Chicago White Sox.
But Wong couldn't make the May 17 game, and Thornley couldn't do it, either, because of his commitment as the gamecaster.
Got the call
Traynor was called.
"I wasn't completely hung out to dry because Stew was right there,'' Traynor said, "but basically, it was still sink or swim.''
The Twins, who scored three runs in the fifth inning, beat the Mariners 4-3. Traynor ruled on one passed ball, two wild pitches and one error.
"It was a throwing error by (Twins third baseman Trevor) Plouffe,'' Traynor said.
There was also one unusual scoring play.
"One of the wild pitches I called negated a strike out and throw 'em out double play at second,'' Traynor said. "The batter swung at the pitch in the dirt, and that's when Aaron Hicks (of the Twins) took off from first to second.
"He was tagged out at second by (Mariners second baseman Robinson) Cano, so I had to call it a 2-to-4 putout and not a double play. If Hicks had taken off with the pitch, then I would have ruled it a double play.
"That's the beauty of baseball, you must stay on your toes for every pitch. Even the announcers said it was a very unusual play.''
Doing it digitally
Growing up, Traynor scored baseball games the old-fashioned way, by pencil.
Now, he scores them all via computer program.
"Actually,'' Traynor said, "it's harder to do score games in the Northwoods League or on any level below the majors.
"You don't have the benefit of instant replay in the lower leagues, plus it's harder to weigh the ability of a college player to professional. That's a big difference.''
Traynor will work all 36 Honkers home games this year, and he's also signed up to do 10 games with the independent St. Paul Saints.
"No matter what level,'' Traynor said, "I know this, every player is conscious in how a scorekeeper rules. And I take that very seriously.''
Baseball is the ultimate numbers game. The official scorekeeper keeps a written record of the game. They rule on hits, errors, wild pitches and passed balls. The information the scorer records is used to calculate batting averages, earned run averages and other statistics. A thorough knowledge of the rulebook is required.