Arizona State alum is the Diamondbacks’ first official scorer

When Kara Blackstone hears the crack of the ball on a baseball bat, it’s not a moment of excitement for her, it’s judgment.

Blackstone, an Arizona State University alumnus, is an official scorer for Major League Baseball and the first official female scorer assigned to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The job requires in-depth knowledge and a love of the game.

“I make the tough calls,” said Blackstone, who in 2018 earned a degree in parks and recreation management from ASU’s School of Community Resources and Development.

“Whatever I call is what affects their stats, which every baseball player lives off of. It’s what helps them grow.

Every MLB game has an official scorer, who sits in the press box and not only records the results of individual baseball games, but also judges some of them. The umpires decide on hits and balls, but when a batter reaches first base, the official scorer decides whether it is a hit or an error. These judgments affect the batter’s batting average and the pitcher’s personal statistics, including no-hitters.

Blackstone was part of an MLB initiative to diversify the ranks of official scorers, many of whom remain in the job for decades. Tyler Barton, the senior director of data operations for MLB, created a “scoring college” program to train a new cohort last year, including Blackstone, who was among five women hired for this season. Before that, MLB had only recorded four other official scorers dating back to the 1800s.

Blackstone not only had a passion and experience in baseball, she had the confidence to turn a bit of luck into a path to a dream job.

She answered a few questions from ASU News about her new historic role:

Question: How did you become an official goalscorer?

Answer: I was in the right place at the right time.

I went to South Mountain Community College and played softball there. I graduated and became a sports news director, working on the website and following the baseball team. I was doing stats for them on an app called “Game Changer” and keeping the score for them.

While at ASU, I worked at the Buffalo Wild Wings in Scottsdale. During spring training, a group came in and I felt like they were baseball people. We started talking. When I found out what they were doing, I told them I was doing something similar for community college.

Things happened. Conversations took place.

I gave my business card to the man who is now my boss (Tyler Barton), and he had me come to a spring training game a week later.

Then I got hired as a Statcast stringer, grabbing what’s happening on the ground into the computer so you can watch it on your app, live.

Q: How did you take the step to become an official goalscorer?

A: Tyler oversees the official scorers and he tries to make it a level playing field. Thus, if a call is an error in one place, it will be the same in another place.

And he came up with the idea of ​​an official “scoring college,” to also usher in diversity within MLB. The idea was to bring in more diverse people for the job and also to see what we actually knew and teach each other.

Q: What did you learn at “the university of markers”?

A: I grew up watching baseball, but there’s so much in the official score that I never knew about because I didn’t have to pay attention to it.

We spoke to a lot of official goalscorers, and they were talking about some games they had.

We watched video clips. The most important thing they were trying to ingrain in us was “ordinary effort,” and that’s how you decide if it was success or error. We’ve watched clip after clip why it’s an “Ordinary Effort” or an “Extraordinary Effort”. We did little quizzes to find out if we thought it would be a mistake or not.

Q: Did you have to pass a quiz to get the official scorer position?

A: No. There’s a quiz we had to pass to get into Major League Baseball, but the job was based on referrals from other scorers in that market. For the Arizona Diamondbacks, there are three other scorers, and I worked with them for a year doing Statcasting. They knew my baseball knowledge.

From day one, Tyler said, “You go far,” and his support has been phenomenal. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity.

Q: what’s your schedule like?

Kara Blackstone sits in the press box at Chase Field as the official scorer for the Arizona Diamondbacks game June 24, 2022 against the Detroit Tigers.  She is the first woman to work as an official scorer for a Diamondbacks game.

A: I am a full time MLB employee. When I’m not scoring at the stadium, I’m at home, managing Statcast’s stringers. I watch two or three games at a time, making sure everything is going well for the stringers at the ballpark.

I manage the stringers for the 30 clubs.

Each official scorer works about 20 games, but since it’s my freshman year and I’m in the job full-time in MLB, I’ll be doing about 13 this season. I will do more next season.

Q: What is your favorite part of the job?

A: Go to the baseball stadium. The atmosphere is so fun. When I’m the official goalscorer, I can just come in and sit down and figure it all out.

Q: Were you a baseball fan growing up?

A: I grew up in Albuquerque, so I went to a lot of Triple-A games (Albuquerque Isotopes). I worked for the team as an usher and as a fun zone supervisor in the outfield. That’s where I started baseball.

I didn’t know it would turn into this.

I didn’t attend many MLB games until I moved here and started attending more games.

Since playing softball, I’ve figured out the basics of how to score, but I really didn’t dive into it until I was at South Mountain as a sports information director.

The South Mountain baseball head coach is joking with me. He’ll say, “You didn’t know what a wild pitch was, and now you’re making the real calls.” I tell him, “You taught me and it worked.”

Q: What did you study at ASU at Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions?

A: My degree is in parks and recreation management. I had the idea that I wanted to do sports management, and it was, at the time, as close to baseball as it could be.

To be honest, I was all over the map. I wasn’t sure what life would bring.

I took many event planning courses and started getting interested in events. When I graduated, I went to Desert Mountain Country Club and became the event coordinator.

I thought, “Baseball is not going to be my career. I have to do something else.

I thought I would keep baseball as a hobby.

Q: Now that you work in baseball, is it still fun?

A: Yes. Every game I learn something new and I see something different. The first two games I scored this season were crazy. Game one (opening day) ended in a draw, and game two went in extra innings and had crazy plays.

It’s never a dull moment for me.

Q: What advice would you give to a young person who would like to do what you do?

A: Go score as much baseball as you can. Go to Little League or high school games, ASU baseball games. Get the experience, learn as much as you can, and don’t be afraid to talk to people.