What Does K Mean in Baseball

Baseball is a game with a wonderful, rich history. There are so many aspects to the game that it's fun to delve into historical research about any aspect of the game, of which there are many.

An early inventor of the K

There was a sportswriter named Henry Chadwick. He was born in Exeter, England on October 4, 1824. With his family, he moved to the United States when he was 12. Chadwick was raised on cricket and started out his journalism career by covering cricket for local newspapers in New York City.

The story is that Chadwick first came across the game of baseball when he was a cricket reporter in 1856. The next year, the young journalist switched from covering cricket to covering the game of baseball.


Chadwick was more than a reporter. He was a lover of the game of baseball, and a keen statistician. He's credited with producing the first baseball guide that was made available to a public audience. He also served on baseball rules committees and had a say in the evolution of the game.

Chadwick is also given credited for developing the baseball box score. The first one was a grid with 9 rows for players and 9 columns for innings.

These box scores carried an abbreviation for "K" for strikeout. What was it? People back then were probably just as puzzled as people today who don't follow the game.

The K is the last letter of the word "struck" as in "struck out." So K means a strikeout. If you're at a game or you're watching on television, you might see a row of "Ks" That means the home pitcher has struck out the number of batters represented by the "Ks." So if you see 11 "Ks," that means the pitcher has so far struck out eleven.

Sometimes you'll see a backward K. That refers to when a batter is called out on strikes-something not particularly praiseworthy for any batter.

If you hang out on baseball message boards, you're likely to find some other theories about why a "K" means strikeout. That's OK. Baseball is so much fun because fans are so creative and because they love the game.

Chadwick was a major force in baseball's development

Chadwick did a lot more things than invent the K for strikeout. There are many examples. In 1868, he wrote the first hardcover book on baseball, The Game of Base Ball. He's credited with being largely responsible for the way games are scored today.

In fact, he was so prolific that in 1938, the Veterans Committee of the Baseball Hall of Fame elected Chadwick to join. Unfortunately, Chadwick wasn't around to accept the election. He died on April 12, 1908.

Chadwick is the subject of a sports biography. In 2008, Andrew Schiff published The Father of Baseball, The Biography of Henry Chadwick. The book covers Chadwick's key role in the development of the sport of baseball in the United States.

Chadwick is buried in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.

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