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Harris at Bat: 1924

August 2, 1924. Washington, D.C. "Coleman's scoreboard invention." The Coleman Lifelike Scoreboard, with "pictures that move and play the game," made its debut at the National Theater in 1913, evidently taking 11 years to reach the state of perfection seen here. National Photo glass negative. View full size.

August 2, 1924. Washington, D.C. "Coleman's scoreboard invention." The Coleman Lifelike Scoreboard, with "pictures that move and play the game," made its debut at the National Theater in 1913, evidently taking 11 years to reach the state of perfection seen here. National Photo glass negative. View full size.


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From Idaho to D.C.

I notice something interesting about the date of this photo. Neat for me that pitching great Walter Johnson made his professional start in Idaho in 1906. (I have boys that play high-caliber baseball in the same area. And my own grandfather, By Speece, would also pitch on the WS winning '24 Nats.)

Discovered and signed in 1907, The Big Train made his first start versus Detroit on August 2, 1907. Particularly later in his career, that August anniversary was celebrated because of his enormous popularity on teams usually known for their ineptitude.

So I suspect this awesome theatre would have enhanced the celebration in this particularly successful baseball year as they would finish with their one and only World Series victory, and in incredible fashion.


And they say Pete Rose invented the headfirst slide. Based on the player diving into third base in 1913 I don't think so, sorry Pete

Where is it now?

Anyone have any information on the fate of this contraption? It's absolutely fascinating.

My husband and sons

would like to order one immediately for the family room.

We Want a World Series

I can only imagine the excitement of following a pennant race in Washington. It hasn't happened again since the end of WWII (the 1945 Nationals lost the AL pennant on the final day of the season). Without a team from 1972 to 2004 we couldn't even dream about it.

Here's hoping the current incarnation of the Nats can finally turn things around and bring DC its first pennant since 1933 and first World Series title since 1924.

"Bring the Ladies"

This advertisement for a New York location is from a book called "The Bounce: Baseball Teams' Great Falls and Comebacks" By G. Richard McKelvey. I couldn't see end note for his source so I don't know the year. Still not much to go on as far as how the dang thing worked. I would guess it's backlit, judging by the faint bits of text and images of players. I can imagine a crew of men behind it with different shapes on long sticks, moving them about as somebody reads the play-by-play off the wire.

World's Series -- World's Series


At 71st Regiment Armory, 34th Street and Park Avenue
Beginning Today and Every Day During Series at 2 P.M.
Direct Wire to Ball Grounds
Every play reproduced instantly by the celebrated


acknowledged by the Press and Public where shown to be the greatest Base-ball invention in the world. You see every play as it is made on the field, with life-like pictures of players that hit the ball, run the bases, get put out or slide to safety. The ball sails through the air, actual players run, catch or pick up the ball and make the play. Umpires give decision. You see errors, fumbles, wild throws. In fact, it is just like being at the game.

Don't forget -- this wonderful invention in New York City ONLY at the 71st Regiment Armory, 34th Street and Park Avenue.
BRING THE LADIES           ADMISSION 24 and 50 cents

The scoreboard idea

Scoreboards similar to this were used in public places into the 1940s until television killed them dead. There was one on a newspaper building in Albany.

[Also one on a newspaper building here. - Dave]

Penny Arcades

The so called Penny Arcades, the precursor of Video Game Rooms used to have games like these. In some cases chits for prizes were awarded for high scoring.

Boost your home team

One of the fake outfield signs have three FBI-looking guys wearing suits and what appears to be sunglasses. Were people wearing sunglasses in 1924? I thought sunglasses were introduced by Sam Foster in 1929.

[I think they just have dark eyes. On a side note, spectacles with tinted lenses go back hundreds of years. We see modern sunglasses for sale in this 1920 photo. - Dave]

Be a real fan

Wear a bow tie.

Baseball Reenactments

At least during World Series contests back in the early 1900's, some daily newspapers on Newspaper Row (Park Row) in Manhattan mounted large semi-automated signs on their building facades that gave streetside spectators the opportunity to follow the game in progress. That was before radio came along, of course.


This is the 20's version of Gamecast or Gameday.

Be a Real Fan

Washington Post, Aug 24, 1913

Show Game on Scoreboard

This afternoon's game between Chicago and Washington will be shown at the National Theater on the Coleman lifelike scoreboard. This board was put before the public last Sunday, and made a decided hit with the fans.

Each play, as on the field, is instantly shown, with the entire team in action, and an enjoyable afternoon's entertainment is in store for the ladies as well as the men. The box office opens at 11 o'clock for the sale of seats, and the game starts at 4 o'clock, Washington time.

Washington Post, Jun 7, 1914

Stage Gossip

Poli's theater has concluded an arrangement with George S. Coleman, inventor of the Coleman Lifelike Scoreboard, under the terms of which this ingenious device will be operated at Poli's theater this afternoon and every Sunday afternoon this summer when the Nationals are playing in other cities.

The Coleman scoreboard is in reality a small stage set as a baseball diamond. Mechanical figures clothed in actual uniforms of the rival teams go through each play of the game as the description is flashed from the seat of war over a leased wire to the theater. The audience sees each player get up from the bench, walk over and pick up his bat, face the pitcher either in a right or left handed position, hit the ball, run the bases and get put out or slide to safety. When the pitcher and catcher are sent to the side lines to warm up, their activities are produced by the Coleman mannikins. The umpire is seen giving his decisions, jerking his right thumb into the air when a player is out, or spreading his hands, palms down, when the runner is safe. In a word, positively every detail of a game is shown two minutes after it is made upon the field as realistically as though the auditors were witnessing a motion picture reproduction of the details.

Before its time.

Reminds me of the old Tiger Electronics sports mini games that were a staple of my youth.

Love it!

How popular was it? How well did it work?

Pay no attention

to the man behind the curtain!

Holy cow!

This is about the coolest thing I've ever seen!

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