Baseball is the sport of choice for stat nerds. There are home runs (HR), earned run averages (ERA), runs batted in (RBIs), and, of course, strikeouts (K). But hold up — why are strikeouts abbreviated with a “K” instead of “S”? Here’s the scoop.
According to legend, the credit goes to an old school sports writer named Henry Chadwick. Apparently, Chadwick used “K” for a strikeout because the letter “K” is the last letter of the word “struck.”
Why didn’t he just use “S”? Good question. According to The Straight Dope, it’s because Chadwick had already used the “S” as shorthand for sacrifice hits. So, he went with “K.”
Chadwick, a respected sportswriter, was largely responsible for creating much of the shorthand that baseball fans use on scorecards. You know how during a double play the announcers will say something like, “That was a 6-4-3″? That’s due to Chadwick, who came up with the system used to number the fielders. A shortstop is “6,” a second baseman is “4,” a first baseman is “3,” and so on. That’s still in use today.
Chadwick died in 1908 and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame posthumously in 1938. According to the Hall, Chadwick wrote the first hard-cover book on baseball ever.
Thanks for reading and let’s play ball,
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