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How Fans Followed Baseball Games Before TV or Radio

Library of Congress
Library of Congress

As it is, I can hardly remember a time when my Giants fandom would have been relegated to reading box scores here on the East Coast. Between television, the internet, and my iPhone, these days it's an anomaly if I miss any one of Tim Lincecum's starts. In the pre-MLB.tv era, I could have caught the Giants on TV whenever they played a hometown team. Go back a little further and I hear the radio was pretty popular. But what about before that?

The first baseball game to be broadcast on the radio was an 8-5 Pittsburgh Pirates victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on August 5, 1921, and even then it took a while to catch on around the league. But that doesn't mean baseball fans before the '20s were satisfied with waiting for the next day's newspaper to find out how their favorite team did if they couldn't procure tickets to the game. And fortunately, they didn't have to.

THE EARLY SPORTS BAR

The invention of the telegram in 1844 allowed baseball scores to be known beyond the confines of the stadium in near-real time. Several sources credit Massey's billiard hall in St. Louis with being the first to take advantage of this technology outside the newsroom. By special arrangement, Western Union Telegraph Co. sent the proto-sports bar scores every half inning, which were then displayed on a bulletin board for the enjoyment and edification of the patrons. Other saloons followed suit, while newspapers—which were already receiving telegraph information for the purpose of reporting on the games—started posting the scores outside their offices. Some club owners attempted to fight back against the dissemination of scores beyond the ballpark, which they feared would erode ticket sales. But that wasn't the case—instead, interest in the game boomed.

But there's more to baseball than the score at the end of every half inning. And as the abundant market for such information was made apparent, entrepreneurs went to work. In the mid-1880s, three telegraph reporters from Nashville, Tennessee devised a way of adding a visual element to the scores: They created a poster that was painted to look like a baseball diamond and equipped with a series of pegs representing players that could be positioned on the different bases. A similar board in Augusta, Georgia was added to the Opera House, where fans paid 10 cents to follow along with their favorite team. The practice quickly spread throughout the country, with each innovator adding their own improvements to the viewing devices.

On December 14, 1888, Edward Van Zile, a reporter at Joseph Pulitzer's The World in New York, was the first person to apply for a patent for his version, called the “Bulletin-Board and Base-Ball Indicator," which was displayed outside the paper's offices in downtown Manhattan. Van Zile doubted the economic viability of such a patent and sold the rights to Pulitzer's secretary, Edwin A. Grozier, who went on to obtain his own patent for an improved version. With royalties from the two patents, Grozier was eventually able to purchase a controlling portion of the Boston Post.

Not all the versions of remote baseball watching took off. "A novel feature of the report was the actual running of the bases by uniformed boys, who obeyed the telegraph instrument in their moves around the diamond. Great interest prevailed and all enjoyed the report," read the Atlanta Constitution on April 17, 1886. (And as if that wasn't enough to entice you, the paper also noted that "A great many ladies were present.") Although this live-action reenactment attempted at the opera house in Atlanta may have been the closest approximation of a real baseball game, it does not seem to have ever spread beyond Georgia.

But even without real athletes (or impersonators), spectators treated these events like live games, cheering along with their hometeam's success as it was recounted by an announcer.

THE ELECTRICITY EFFECT

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As the 20th century approached, electricity was changing almost every aspect of life in America, and baseball was no exception. Both Boston Major League teams test-ran a prototype of an electronic scoreboard in 1908, but it wasn't until Yankee Stadium opened in 1923 that a ballpark was built to include an electronic scoreboard. But outside the stadiums, away from owners' fears that scoreboards would negate the sales of scorecards, electric bulletins enjoyed an earlier evolution.

An article in the January 24, 1891 issue of Scientific American described an “Electrical Base Ball Bulletin” invented by Samuel D. Mott, an employee of Thomas Edison. The article stresses that the "ideal bulletin or indicator system must be reduced to the simplest electrical and mechanical organization," but it was still capable of indicating the intricacies and details of a game:

The contestants, time, place and date of the game, umpire, battery, position of men on the field, the inning being played, the side which has the inning, the number of outs in the inning, the man at bat, the number of strikes called on him, also number of balls called. It shows how the last man went out, whether by fly, foul, assist, strike, or sacrifice hit, the base run, home run, base on balls, stolen base, or base on error; the table score or the score by innings. A bell taps when any of these changes take place upon the instrument.

Other engineers followed suit with increasingly elaborate electronic displays. For example, Charles Nichols' invention, which the Hall-of-Fame pitcher submitted a patent for just a year after retiring, featured a string of lights to mark the movement of a batter around the basepaths. Others used lights to not only track the path of the runner but also that of the ball.

BASEBALL IN 3-D

The stage versions for which patrons paid an entrance fee soon evolved into three dimensions, with mechanical men mimicking the motions of their flesh-and-blood counterparts. An August 7, 1895 issue of The Electrical Engineer marveled at one such device invented by Frank Chapman.

All the players have their proper positions on the big field, and are represented by dummy marionettes, true to the life and about three feet high. Besides the fielding team, and the man at bat or those on bases, three men of the in team are seen on the bench awaiting their turn; two coaches gesticulate wildly on right and left field, and back of the pitcher's box is an umpire who calls the game and waves his arms quite a la mode. Moreover, the batter at the home plate is provided with a bat which he flings down with a genuinely "sickening thud" when he starts for first base.

Movements became ever more detailed in later versions. Thomas H. Jackson received a patent on February 18, 1913 for the Jackson Manikin Baseball Indicator, which required 10 men to operate and went so far as to depict these miniature athletes arguing with umpires.

THRONGS AT THE BULLETINS

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These elaborate models did not fully replace the illuminated scoreboards that could be seen for free from the streets. And as the World Series garnered greater national attention, the bulletins with names like “Play-O-Graph,” “Star Ball Player,” and “Nokes Electrascore” attracted increasingly large crowds. During the 1911 Series between Philadelphia and New York, the New York Times reported on both the games and the "THRONGS AT THE BULLETINS," as one headline read. The story named Time Square, Herald Square, and Park Row as some of the more prominent places to watch the drama on the field.

By the following year, the crowds were getting out of hand. "Times Square was packed with a crowd that was baseball mad yesterday afternoon when the signal went up on The Times electric scoreboard... By the beginning of the ninth inning the crowd reached almost to Forty-fifth Street, and the police had their hands full keeping the car tracks open," an October 11, 1912 Times article read. It didn't help matters when Boston's ninth inning rally fell short, allowing New York to eke out a one-run win. But that sort of enthusiasm lent an authentic feel to these fanatic gatherings: “Some of the more enthusiastic fans called out advice to [Giants starting pitcher Rube] Marquard, just as they often had at the Polo Grounds. In fact, there could have been no more interest shown in the game had the scene been the ball grounds at Boston than in Times Square."

That wasn't the only article of the time to conclude that these electronic bulletins were just about as good as the real thing, if not better. But as technology surged ahead, the electronic bulletins' days were numbered. The unenthusiastic broadcasts of early baseball radio, which were filled with silence, allowed the bulletins to coexist for some time. But as radio broadcasts improved and even newer media developed, the old way of watching games was phased out. Ultimately, the television broadcast of baseball starting at the end of the 1930s rendered the Play-O-Graph and all the rest like it completely obsolete.

Additional source: Electric Scoreboards, Bulletin Boards, and Mimic Diamonds by Rob Edelman in Volume 3, Number 2 of John Thorn's "Base Ball: A Journal of the Early Game"

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25 Royals in the Line of Succession to the British Throne
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Between the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge welcoming their third child on April 23, 2018 and Prince Harry's upcoming marriage to Suits star Meghan Markle in May, the line of succession to the British throne has become a topic of interest all over the world. And the truth is, it’s complicated. Though Queen Elizabeth II, who turned 92 years old on April 21, shows no signs of slowing down, here are the royals who could one day take her place on the throne—in one very specific order.

1. PRINCE CHARLES

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As a direct result of his mother being the world's longest-reigning monarch, Prince Charles—the eldest child of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip—is the longest serving heir to the throne; he became heir apparent in 1952, when his mother ascended to the throne.

2. PRINCE WILLIAM

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At 35 years old, odds are good that Prince William, Duke of Cambridge—the eldest son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana—will ascend to the throne at some point in his lifetime.

3. PRINCE GEORGE 

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On July 22, 2013, Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge welcomed their first child, Prince George of Cambridge, who jumped the line to step ahead of his uncle, Prince Harry, to become third in the line of succession.

4. PRINCESS CHARLOTTE 

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On May 2, 2015, William and Catherine added another member to their growing brood: a daughter, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge. Though her parents just welcomed a bouncing baby boy, she will maintain the fourth-in-line position because of the Succession to the Crown Act 2013, which went into effect just a few weeks before her arrival, and removed a long-held rule which stated that any male sibling (regardless of birth order) would automatically move ahead of her.

5. PRINCE OF CAMBRIDGE

 Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge depart the Lindo Wing with their newborn son at St Mary's Hospital on April 23, 2018 in London, England
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On April 23, 2018, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge welcomed their third child—a son, whose name has yet to be announced, but who has already pushed his uncle, Prince Harry, out of the fifth position in line to the throne.

6. PRINCE HARRY

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As the second-born son of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Prince Harry's place in the line is a regularly changing one. It changed earlier this week, when his brother William's third child arrived, and could change again if and when their family expands.

7. PRINCE ANDREW, DUKE OF YORK

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Prince Andrew is a perfect example of life before the Succession to the Crown Act 2013: Though he’s the second-born son of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, he’s actually their third child (Princess Anne came between him and Prince Charles). But because the rules gave preference to males, Prince Andrew would inherit the throne before his older sister.

8. PRINCESS BEATRICE OF YORK

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Because Prince Andrew and his ex-wife, Sarah, Duchess of York, had two daughters and no sons, none of that male-preference primogeniture stuff mattered in terms of their placement. But with each child her cousin Prince William has, Princess Beatrice moves farther away from the throne. If Beatrice looks familiar, it might be because of the headlines she made with the Dr. Seuss-like hat she wore to William and Catherine’s wedding. (The infamous topper later sold on eBay for more than $130,000, all of which went to charity.)

9. PRINCESS EUGENIE OF YORK

Princess Eugenie of York arrives in the parade ring during Royal Ascot 2017 at Ascot Racecourse on June 20, 2017 in Ascot, England
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Though she’s regularly seen at royal events, Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson’s youngest daughter spends the bulk of her time indulging her interest in fine art. She has held several jobs in the art world, and is currently a director at Hauser & Wirth’s London gallery.

10. PRINCE EDWARD, EARL OF WESSEX

 Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex leaves after a visit to Prince Philip
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Like his older brother Andrew, Prince Edward—the youngest son of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip—jumps the line ahead of his older sister, Princess Anne, because of the older rule that put males ahead of females.

11. JAMES, VISCOUNT SEVERN

 James, Viscount Severn, rides on the fun fair carousel on day 4 of the Royal Windsor Horse Show on May 11, 2013 in Windsor, England
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James, Viscount Severn—the younger of Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and Sophie, Countess of Wessex’s two children, and their only son—turned 10 years old on December 17, 2017, and celebrated it as the 10th royal in line of succession. (The birth of the youngest Prince of Cambridge pushed him back a spot.)

12. LADY LOUISE MOUNTBATTEN-WINDSOR

Lady Louise Windsor during the annual Trooping the Colour Ceremony at Buckingham Palace on June 15, 2013 in London, England.
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Because the Succession to the Crown Act 2013 wasn’t enacted until 2015, Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor—the older of Prince Edward’s two children—will always be just behind her brother in the line of succession.

13. PRINCESS ANNE, THE PRINCESS ROYAL

Princess Anne, Princess Royal, visits the Hambleton Equine Clinic on October 10, 2017 in Stokesley, England
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Princess Anne, the Queen and Prince Philip’s second-born child and only daughter, may never rule over the throne in her lifetime, but at least she gets to be called “The Princess Royal.”

14. PETER PHILLIPS

Peter Phillips poses for a photo on The Mall
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The eldest child and only son of Princess Anne and her first husband, Captain Mark Phillips, stands just behind his mother in line. Interesting fact: Had Phillips’s wife, Autumn Kelly, not converted from Roman Catholicism to the Church of England before their marriage in 2008, Phillips would have lost his place in line.

15. SAVANNAH PHILLIPS

Savannah Phillips attends a Christmas Day church service
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On December 29, 2010, Peter and Autumn Phillips celebrated the birth of their first child, Savannah Anne Kathleen Phillips, who is also the Queen’s first great-grandchild. She’s currently 15th in line.

16. ISLA PHILLIPS

Princess Anne, Princess Royal, Isla Phillips and Peter Phillips attend a Christmas Day church service
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Less than two years after Savannah, Peter and Autumn Phillips had a second daughter, Isla, who stands just behind her sister in line. It wasn’t until 2017 that Savannah and Isla made their Buckingham Palace balcony debut (in honor of their great-grandmother’s 91st birthday).

17. ZARA TINDALL

 Zara Tindall arrives for a reception at the Guildhall
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Not one to hide in the background, Zara Tindall—Princess Anne’s second child and only daughter—has lived much of her life in the spotlight. A celebrated equestrian, she won the Eventing World Championship in Aachen in 2006 and was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year the same year (her mom earned the same title in 1971). She’s also Prince George’s godmother.

18. MIA TINDALL

Mike Tindall, Zara Tindall and their daughter Mia Tindall pose for a photograph during day three of The Big Feastival at Alex James' Farm on August 28, 2016 in Kingham, Oxfordshire.
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Zara Tindall’s daughter Mia may just be 4 years old, but she’s already regularly making headlines for her outgoing personality. And though she’s only 18th in line to the throne, her connection to the tippity top of the royal family is much closer: Prince William is her godfather.

19. DAVID ARMSTRONG-JONES, 2ND EARL OF SNOWDON

David Armstrong-Jones, 2nd Earl of Snowdon
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David Armstrong-Jones, the eldest child of Princess Margaret, isn’t waiting around to see if the British crown ever lands on his head. The 56-year-old, who goes by David Linley in his professional life, has made a name for himself as a talented furniture-maker. His bespoke pieces, sold under the brand name Linley, can be purchased through his own boutiques as well as at Harrods.

20. CHARLES ARMSTRONG-JONES, VISCOUNT LINLEY

Margarita Armstrong-Jones and Charles Patrick Inigo Armstrong-Jones
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David Armstrong-Jones’s only son, Charles, may be 20th in line to the throne, but the 18-year-old is the heir apparent to the Earldom of Snowdon.

21. LADY MARGARITA ARMSTRONG-JONES

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (R) talks with Lady Margarita Armstrong-Jones (C) as her father David Armstrong-Jones (L), 2nd Earl of Snowdon, known as David Linley
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Lady Margarita Armstrong-Jones, the youngest child of David Armstrong-Jones and his only daughter, is also the only granddaughter of Princess Margaret. Now 15 years old (she'll turn 16 in June), Lady Margarita made headlines around the world in 2011 when she served as a flower girl at the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.

22. LADY SARAH CHATTO

Lady Sarah Chatto, the daughter of Princess Margaret arrives for her mother's memorial service
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Lady Sarah Chatto, Princess Margaret and Anthony Armstrong-Jones’s only daughter, is the youngest grandchild of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. In addition to serving as a bridesmaid to Princess Diana, she is Prince Harry’s godmother.

23. SAMUEL CHATTO

Lady Sarah Chatto (L) and her son Samuel Chatto (R) leave a Service of Thanksgiving for the life and work of Lord Snowdon at Westminster Abbey on April 7, 2017 in London, United Kingdom
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The first-born son of Lady Sarah Chatto and her husband, Daniel, has a long way to go to reach the throne: He’s currently 23rd in line.

24. ARTHUR CHATTO

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For better or worse, Sarah and Daniel Chatto’s youngest son Arthur has become a bit of a social media sensation. He's made headlines recently as he regularly posts selfies to Instagram—some of them on the eyebrow-raising side, at least as far as royals go.

25. PRINCE RICHARD, DUKE OF GLOUCESTER

Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester makes a speech during the unveiling ceremony of London's first public memorial to the Korean War on December 3, 2014 in London, England
Carl Court/Getty Images

At 73 years old, Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester is the youngest grandchild of King George V and Queen Mary. Formerly, he made a living as an architect, until the 1972 death of his brother, Prince William of Gloucester, put him next in line to inherit his father’s dukedom. On June 10, 1974, he officially succeeded his father as Duke of Gloucester, Earl of Ulster, and Baron Culloden.

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20 Black-and-White Facts About Penguins
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To celebrate World Penguin Day (which is today, April 25), here are a few fun facts about these adorable tuxedoed birds.

1. All 17 species of penguins are found exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere.

2. Emperor Penguins are the tallest species, standing nearly 4 feet tall. The smallest is the Little Blue Penguin, which is only about 16 inches.

emperor penguin
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3. The fastest species is the Gentoo Penguin, which can reach swimming speeds up to 22 mph.

Gentoo Penguin
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4. A penguin's striking coloring is a matter of camouflage; from above, its black back blends into the murky depths of the ocean. From below, its white belly is hidden against the bright surface.

penguins swimming in the ocean
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5. Fossils place the earliest penguin relative at some 60 million years ago, meaning an ancestor of the birds we see today survived the mass extinction of the dinosaurs.

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6. Penguins ingest a lot of seawater while hunting for fish, but a special gland behind their eyes—the supraorbital gland—filters out the saltwater from their blood stream. Penguins excrete it through their beaks, or by sneezing.

penguins swimming in the ocean
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7. Unlike most birds—which lose and replace a few feathers at a time—penguins molt all at once, spending two or three weeks land-bound as they undergo what is called the catastrophic molt.

molting penguin
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8. All but two species of penguins breed in large colonies of up to a thousand birds.

king penguins
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9. It varies by species, but many penguins will mate with the same member of the opposite sex season after season.

chinstrap penguins
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10. Similarly, most species are also loyal to their exact nesting site, often returning to the same rookery in which they were born.

maegellic penguin nesting
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11. Some species create nests for their eggs out of pebbles and loose feathers. Emperor Penguins are an exception: They incubate a single egg each breeding season on the top of their feet. Under a loose fold of skin is a featherless area with a concentration of blood vessels that keeps the egg warm.

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12. In some species, it is the male penguin which incubates the eggs while females leave to hunt for weeks at a time. Because of this, pudgy males—with enough fat storage to survive weeks without eating—are most desirable.

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13. Penguin parents—both male and female—care for their young for several months until the chicks are strong enough to hunt for food on their own.

Penguins nest
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14. If a female Emperor Penguin's baby dies, she will often "kidnap" an unrelated chick.

penguin chicks
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15. Despite their lack of visible ears, penguins have excellent hearing and rely on distinct calls to identify their mates when returning to the crowded breeding grounds.

16. The first published account of penguins comes from Antonio Pigafetta, who was aboard Ferdinand Magellan's first circumnavigation of the globe in 1520. They spotted the animals near what was probably Punta Tombo in Argentina. (He called them "strange geese.")

17. An earlier, anonymous diary entry from Vasco da Gama's 1497 voyage around the Cape of Good Hope makes mention of flightless birds as large as ducks.

18. Because they aren't used to danger from animals on solid ground, wild penguins exhibit no particular fear of human tourists.

19. Unlike most sea mammals—which rely on blubber to stay warm—penguins survive because their feathers trap a layer of warm air next to the skin that serves as insulation, especially when they start generating muscular heat by swimming around.

20. In the 16th century, the word penguin actually referred to great auks (scientific name: Pinguinus impennis), a now-extinct species that inhabited the seas around eastern Canada. When explorers traveled to the Southern Hemisphere, they saw black and white birds that resembled auks, and called them penguins.

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