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Play by Play: 1924

August 2, 1924. Washington, D.C. "Coleman's scoreboard invention." The scene behind the screen of the Lifelike Baseball Scoreboard. View full size.

August 2, 1924. Washington, D.C. "Coleman's scoreboard invention." The scene behind the screen of the Lifelike Baseball Scoreboard. View full size.


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A dash to third base

To answer BobE's question about the use of a telegraph code to report the progress of the game, yes, a "shorthand" was used to keep the action up to date much like the shorthand for chess moves. The scoreboard shown is a very elaborate one. Much simpler ones were used, newspapers would just post sheets of paper on their front windows with the current score, inning number and such. Blackboards would also be used. When broadcast radio came along the telegrapher would pass this shorthand written on paper to an announcer and although just in the studio of the local radio station he would recreate the game as if he was actually at the game. Some stations would actually add in recorded crowd noise to further give the effect of an announcer actually at the game. Both the famous sportscaster Red Barber as well as former President Ronald Reagan back in his younger days announced games this way.

Coleman on the right

From another photographic site: "George S. Coleman with the newest in baseball score boards. It contains 19,000 feet of wire and has 400 stereopticon slides with an electric light bulb for each slide. Five men are required to operate the great board, including the telegraph operator who receives play-by-play from the field. Mr. Coleman is shown on the extreme right."

Was there a special telegraph code?

' the plays are received by telegraph from the scene of the game...'

Was there some poor guy sitting on a morse key at the game tapping out some strange cryptic coded version of the play?

Was it like chess-speak? P-Q4 and all that?

Buy a Ticket

Ten years to build? From this view, what a waste of a life. Plenty of good seats were always available in those days.

Buy a ticket, not to the theater but to see the actual humans. Get some fresh air. It wasn't like this fellow was building these things in every theater in the hinterlands where there was no big league ball.

[Not very likely unless you bought a train ticket as well. This setup was used for the home team's away games. - Dave]

Technology Guys

Here are some young technology experts. Fore runners to the dot com guys or Geek Squad.

400 Electric Bulbs

An article about Mr. Coleman's patented invention appeared in the Nov. 1924 Popular Science.

If he ever saw a Jumbotron

Mr. C would probably crap his pants.

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