What Does the K Mean in Baseball


Written by

Michael Rogers



Leo Hagenes

what does the k mean in baseball

With over 120 baseball statistics there are, one symbol can make half the stadium jump for joy. There’s no similar feeling when you see the K stat as your favorite pitcher turns into a monster in the field.

But what does the K mean in baseball? It depends on how the K is presented. The symbol K means strikeout, and a backward K denotes a strikeout except that the batter did not swing on the last strike call.

Let’s dig deeper into it!

How Baseball Games Began to Use K as a Stand for a Strikeout


As we mentioned, the K stat in baseball denotes a strikeout. But how it came to be is another fun fact every baseball fan should know.

Let’s be honest, most of us baseball fans enjoy the game by watching the players and we often ignore symbols in the MLB game unless we’re scoring it.

However, you’ll be amazed by the history of baseball stats symbols such as the origin of K for a strikeout.

Americans found huge interest and enjoyment in sports even before digital media. This was true, especially with baseball.

There was even a debate as to when and where the game originated. One thing is for sure, though – Americans were crazy about it.

It wasn’t easy to be a pioneer and die-hard baseball fan, considering that the first record of bat swinging was in 1735. Imagine, the TV and even the radio were not yet invented, so the only source of sports information was newspapers.

This made writers the mid man between the baseball players and the fans. Thanks to Henry Chadwick, who invented the modern box score in 1859, baseball fans were able to keep up with the latest game and player stats.

And the ‘K’ symbol, which stands for strikeout, first appeared and was used in an official baseball game in 1868.

That very box score that Chadwick formulated debuted the letter K as the symbol for a strikeout. It was in 1868 that baseball K signs were used in scoring games in real-time.

More than a century later, we still use this symbol in scoring every baseball game. We’ve covered hundreds of years of history just to answer ‘what does the K mean in baseball?’.

But why use K instead of any other symbol? It was not because Chadwick picked a piece of paper out of a blindfolded fishbowl. Here are some sensible reasons for that:

  • Striking out requires three strikes in a row, while three strokes are needed to write the letter K.
  • The letter K is the prominent letter when pronouncing the word strike.
  • It’s the last letter when you spell struck.

Now, who might be the suspect in inventing the backward K for a strikeout? It’s still Chadwick and you’ll find out why later.

If you need a detailed comparison between backward K vs forward K in baseball then keep reading.

Backward K in Baseball Meaning


A strikeout K backward means something else in baseball and it’s not just a fancy way of scoring a game.

An upside-down K or a backward letter K is used in the scorecard when the batter fails to swing the bat on the final strike in a series of three strikes.

What if the batter was able to make contact with the ball on the first two strikes? The third strike should still be scored as a reverse K as long as the hitter did not swing the bat.

So remember, the meaning of backward K in baseball lies in the third strike, no matter how the first and second were made.

Since this strike is rarely seen on the field, Chadwick decided to use the same letter backward because it stands out on the scorecard and helps show off the pitcher.

Read more: What is Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) and WHIP meaning in baseball?

K Rate in Baseball Meaning

You already know that K is the strikeout symbol in baseball, but do you know exactly when it takes place in a game?

We’ve answered what the K mean in baseball but let’s take a step back.

For new and veteran baseball fans or players, it is important to know what a strike out or struck out means to easily identify it when one happens in the game.

For a strikeout to be recorded, a hitter needs to receive three strikes from the pitcher. These strikes are commonly swinging or looking strikes (the hitter fails to make contact with the ball) and possibly a foul ball.

Here’s a fun fact before we proceed to answer the most frequently asked questions:

Tom Cheney produced the most strikeouts in a single Major League baseball game with 21 strikeouts in total. It happened in 1962 when the Washington Senators beat the Baltimore Orioles.

Frequently Asked Questions


Let’s answer some FAQs about the symbol K and other baseball matters!

Which player has the most K’s in baseball history?

Nolan Ryan holds the record for most strikeouts by a pitcher with an astonishing 5,714 strikeouts! Randy Johnson follows with 4,875 strikeouts under his belt.

Does a foul ball count as a strike?

A scorer would count a foul ball a strike only if the batter has no more than two strikes. Hence, it would still contribute to a strike called K or a strikeout when it occurs on the first two strikes.

How can I type backward K on my computer?

If you need the backward K copy and paste baseball symbol, we got your back! Use this ꓘ in scoring your next baseball game.

What is Sabermetrics?

Sabermetrics is the study or analysis of baseball using statistics. It’s knowing what baseball stats symbols like bb mean or h mean and using those data to predict a player’s performance and have an edge against the other team.


After learning what the K mean in baseball, we know you’re now ready to spot a strikeout happening in the field! Share the meaning of K vs backward K in baseball with your buddy and we’re sure you’ll enjoy watching the next game even more.

We hope that we gave light on the rich history of baseball stats and that this inspired you to learn other stats that you’d typically see on the pub’s TV. Be on the look because we just might teach you other baseball symbols soon!

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