- The Washington Times - Friday, April 28, 2006

To Washington Nationals fans, Bob Carpenter is the new voice of their team. To other broadcasters and baseball writers, he’s the man who helps them stay organized.

Carpenter, who came to Washington this season after stints with the St. Louis Cardinals and ESPN, also brought with him a thriving business designing and selling his own baseball scorebooks. It’s a tiny but successful operation that began in the early 1980s, when Carpenter was a minor league announcer struggling to keep score on an old softball scorebook.

“This started out as a necessity, became a hobby and is now something I do on a professional basis,” Carpenter said.

He now sells three versions of books he designs himself: one for television broadcasters that has 100 pages, one for radio guys containing 200 pages, and another 100-page book for fans. The broadcaster scorebooks have many touches common scorebooks lack, such as a chart to outline the team’s defense, space for 15 innings, and room for the scorer to write notes. Fan books are smaller, but easier to carry around the ballpark. All three have lines and boxes as crisp as Carpenter’s on-air voice, with room to allow scorers to follow a game however they wish.

“The thing I like about my book is that it’s real clean and wide open,” he said. “I want people to be able to do their own thing.”

Indeed, fans and broadcasters are known for developing their own scoring system. Nationals’ radio broadcasters Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler use Carpenter’s books but have different systems. Slowes uses a mechanical pencil, and writes tiny notations about every at-bat. Jageler refers to himself as a “pen and Whiteout” guy, and fills the score boxes with larger notes. But it works for them.

“I can look back on every game and eventually know exactly what happened,” said Slowes, who worked with Carpenter on the design of the radio broadcaster’s scorebook in the offseason. “It’s almost like the book is customized for me. For a season this long, the book is a great thing.”

Carpenter still spends at least an hour a day on the scorebook business, either processing Internet orders personally or tweaking the design for future editions. This is his busiest time of year, and he talks constantly with the owner of a small print shop in Tulsa, Okla., which has produced the books from the beginning. He currently sells about 400 books a year, some through the official St. Louis Cardinals team store. Current customers include ESPN’s Peter Gammons, Joe Morgan and Orel Hershiser, Fox’s Joe Buck and Dodgers’ broadcaster Charlie Steiner.

“It’s turning a pretty good profit now, but it’s nothing that will put my daughter through school,” said Carpenter, who’s had early discussions about designing a book specifically for Nationals fans.

He is also considering selling a book specifically for writers that is more compact, and is soliciting advice from many reporters. His broadcast books are already popular among the baseball press corps, even though many receive scorebooks from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

“I’m a huge fan of Carpenter’s book,” said Gordon Edes, a baseball writer for the Boston Globe. “The boxes in Carpenter’s book allow me to put all the info I need on a given at-bat — where the ball was hit, how the runner advanced, et cetera. And there’s lots of room, especially in the big book, to jot down all kinds of extraneous info. I’ve used a number of books over the years. [Carpenter’s] is by far my favorite.”

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