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Lost art: JC Cards fans watch games by the book

Joe Avento • Aug 7, 2019 at 9:30 PM

Tom Rouse and Rick Foltz rarely miss a pitch at a Johnson City Cardinals game. They can’t afford to. It might mess up their scorebooks.

The two friends keep track of every batter at every game using their pencils to score the games. It’s a lost art, but Foltz, Rouse and a few other fans are keeping it alive every night there’s a ballgame at TVA Credit Union Ballpark.

“It keeps me interested in the game,” Foltz says. “Makes me pay attention to what’s going on out there instead of watching what’s going on around here.”

The Cardinals’ front office has created an entertaining atmosphere at TVA Credit Union Ballpark with all kinds of promotions. Those efforts have led to record-breaking attendance the past few years, but for these two die-hard baseball fans, the game is the only thing.

“Scoring the game helps me pay attention to what’s going on out on the field,” Rouse said. “I just enjoy doing it. There are a lot of distractions around here. If you don’t pay attention to the game, you can miss a play.”

Rouse has had season tickets for 13 years. He’s been scoring games for 12 and has kept all of his books.

“The first year I was here it was hard to keep up with the players,” he said. “I decided that the best way to learn the players’ names and their faces was to score the game. That’s the quickest way to learn their names and how well they play.

“When a player comes out on the field and I see their number, I know who it is. The pitchers, not so much because there’s so many of them.”

Rouse actually got Foltz interested in scoring.

“About three years ago, I couldn’t have cared less about baseball,” Foltz said. “Mr. Rouse here was coming to the games so I started to come too, and rather than bother him about what’s going on, I started watching what he was doing. I bought one of these scorecards and started to learn how to do it.

“It actually has created an interest in baseball for me. I can now watch baseball on TV and get an idea of what’s going on. I enjoy it.”

It takes a lot of dedication to attend every game and track every batter. Asked what’s the main motivation, Foltz laughed.

“I bought season tickets, No. 1,” he said. “No, 2, I enjoy the evening. It’s quite a bit of fun.”

Paying such close attention has enabled these unofficial scorers to learn players’ tendencies They fancy themselves as scouts of sorts.

“It’s a lot of fun when a batter comes to the plate and we’ll call the out or where he’s going to hit a home run,” Foltz said.

“We get an idea of what these batters are going to do,” Rouse added. “We can sort of track players and know what to expect from them.”

And when the game’s over, they can both tell you exactly what happened. They have it all in black and white.

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