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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • THE TOY DEPARTMENT, 1913

Red Sox-Giants: 1912

Red Sox-Giants: 1912

October 1912. Washington, D.C. "Baseball, Professional. Electric scoreboard." A close-up of the "baseball game reproducer" from the previous post showing results of the 1912 World Series between New York and Boston to crowds on a Washington street. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.

 

Game 7

It is actually Game 7. When looking at the lineup in the picture, Devore is playing RF. In the three games with the same pitching matchups, Devore plays RF in Game 7 only -- and LF in the others.

Baseball Reproducer

To see one of these in action I recommend watching "Eight Men Out" to see a hand-operated indoor version. A couple of scenes are set in a hotel ballroom that's being used (in 1919, the last season before the first games broadcast on radio) to translate pitch-by-pitch telegraph messages into graphics on a smaller board that looks very much like the outdoor board above. A man dressed like a headwaiter uses wooden dowel or pointer to move a "player" figure up a slot that representing the basepath.

Of course there are at least 600 reasons to watch "Eight Men Out."

Baseball in another age

I read about these gadgets in Cait Murphy's "Crazy '08," an account of the 1908 pro baseball season and World Series. It's great to see a close-up, detailed photo of one of them.

Complicated

I'd love to see how they controlled that thing! Are the lights, or did someone put up cardboard or something behind the cutouts?

[It looks to be boy-powered. Or at least boy-operated. - Dave]

Board game?

I have a vague recollection of a board game set up similar to this that was at my grandmother's house when I was a child. Given that my grandparents' generation would've been about 5 - 10 years old in 1912, I assume the game was based directly on these pre-radio electric scoreboards. By rolling dice or selecting cards (as I recall), you could play out a game by highlighting various positions and changing the players' names.

Unfortunately, I was never much of a baseball fan, so it was all lost on me. Any of the baseball collectors here know what I'm talking about? I wouldn't begin to know how to google it.

Not the New York World

Apparently that origin of the name is actually untrue:

http://www.snopes.com/business/names/worldseries.asp

Baseball Game Reproducer

Washington Post Apr 20, 1910

Fans Impressed With New
Baseball Game Reproducer

Thousands of excited fans stood for nearly two hours yesterday afternoon watching the Post's new electric baseball game reproducer, as it realistically reeled off play after play of the Nationals' last game of the double-header with Boston.

It was the unanimous opinion of the crowd that it was the finest exhibition of electrical scoreboard work that has ever been witnessed in this city, the only regret being the defeat of McAleer's men in the ninth inning. Up to the fatal ninth, it looked as if the Nationals, with Johnson in the box, had the contest safely tucked away, and it was interesting to note the change of expressions on the faces as Stahl, the first man up, went out. Four green lights sent the next batsmen to first on balls, and then the big bell told of two singles and a double, and before the contest was over Boston had sent three runners over the plate, and the game was won.

The board, which will reproduce every game the Nationals play away from hone, is a great improvement over the one which The Post used last season. It is arranged to accommodate an unusually large crowd, and instead of one board as heretofore two will be in operation at the same time, the boards being set at an angle that it will be almost impossible for any on in the crowd to miss a play.

The lights indicating the various plays are so brilliant that they can be seen from the District building, and this alone is a big advantage to the crowd, especially those who are in the rear. It is pitched just far enough from the street so that every play is visible, and the play is recorded on the board a fraction of a second after it is completed on the ground where the game is played.

The World's Series

It was called that because people still remembered that it was started by the New York World newspaper. In 1903 they set up the first championship series between the league champion of the established National League and the champions of the upstart American League (founded in 1901). The National League refused to compete in 1904 but came back in 1905. The series has been running ever since (well with the exception of the strike season of 1994). The series might be the last remembrance of the New York World even if most people aren't aware of it ("Why do they call it the World Series when only American teams play in it? The Japanese should be in it!")

Every city - maybe every newspaper - had one of these Electric Scoreboards, at least for the World's Series. I've seen a lot of references to them in the newspapers from the 1910s and '20s but this is the first time I've really seen what one looks like.

[According to the Baseball Hall of Fame and various "urban legend" authorities, the World Series has nothing to do with the New York World. - Dave]

Fenway's Inaugural

The 1912 season was also the first for the Red Sox in their new home - Fenway Park.

An Early Version of MLB's Gameday

The technology changed but the design remains the same:

Hmmm....

Notice that it is "the World's Series"?

[Which is what people called it. - Dave]

TV Off! Use Your Imagination!

Like Grandma Rose used to say, "TV off! Use your imagination!"

I still "watch" baseball in this manner (at work when I'm not investing company time on Shorpy.com), through MLB.com's Gameday. It's still a decent way to "see" a ballgame!

Old Smokey

It's great to See Smokey Joe Wood up there. His was a short career, but he was said to have been one of the best!

The Mighty Oz

Ignore the man behind the scoreboard!

Nationals vs. Opponents

I love this. Love the design of the scoreboard, with the two different (hand-written?) fonts for the players' names, the light-up figures on the field, and the bell (right?) to be rung... when there's a hit, maybe? I also love the idea of a huge crowd "watching" the game this way. How much fun must it have been to be there!

Game 4

This, specifically was Game 4, played on Friday, October 11. Harry Hooper had just reached on a single, and any moment now Steve Yerkes will reach on a bunt misplayed New York's catcher Chief Meyers. Boston would go on to win the game 3-1, and the World Series 4-3-1 (yes, there was a tie; game 2 was called in the 11th on account of darkness).

 
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