Consumer Electronics & Appliance News, Reviews & Information.

Oct 12

The history of the World Series from radio to your HDTV

image of 1903 world series

We are so spoiled when it comes to viewing the World Series on our flat screen TV’s. Multiple camera angles. Super slo-mo. An electronic strike zone that actually shows the umps to be pretty consistent. And you can add a continuing stream of sabermetric statistics coming to your best smartphone via Twitter, and on-line exclusive camera angles and live time streaming, we have all the information at our fingertips. We live in the lap of luxury when it comes to the World Series.

But it wasn’t always this way.

Image of the 1903 World Series program

Scorekeeping — it’s how you stayed informedThis photo of the first World Series program clearly shows a filled-in scorecard. There were rudimentary scoreboards in major league stadiums, but if you really wanted to stay informed about the game, you needed to keep score.

1908′s Information Highway

Then it happened. In 1908, the first electronic scoreboard appeared, capable of showing balls, strikes and outs. It was introduced in Boston, but didn’t catch on like wildfire because the owners were afraid it would cut down on the sale of scorecards. But electricity was here to stay, and the World Series started to get its info via the electronic scoreboard. Over time, the scoreboards were expanded to cover more information, but it all began with the humble ball, strike and out electronic scoreboard.

Electricity Starts to Travel

By 1923, the technology was spreading from the ballpark as well. On October 5, 1921, the first ever World Series game was broadcast on the radio, in Pittsburgh, PA. This proved to be so popular that by 1923, the World Series was being broadcast live nationwide. A scant two years from first game ever to nation wide coverage. Not bad speed in those days!

Gets Loud

The next place that electricity helped the World Series was in 1929, when the first public address system was put into the Giants home park. All of a sudden, information could be given verbally. “Now batting, Joe DiMaggio”.  And the World Series information highway began to expand from one lane dirt to two lane gravel, as the fans could now be easily informed about pinch hitters, pitching changes and the occasional wild pitch v. passed ball discussion.

And Makes The World A Brighter Place

Image of stadium lights

A true game changer. Image by danxoneil, used under Creative Commons

Electricity was making the ball park a much different place to be late in the day. The first night-game ever played was May 24, 1935, with the Reds beating the Phillies 2-1. But, with uncharacteristic slowness, the World Series was slow to jump on this new trend. The first night game in World Series history was Game 4 in 1971, 36 years later, in Piitsburgh. But after that first night game, it didn’t take long for prime time lights to take over — there has been no day baseball at the World Series since 1987.

 And Finally Shows The World An Image

But the turning point for the World Series (and all sports for that matter) was in 1947, with the first televised game between the Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers, on a screen that was not much bigger than today’s best smartphone! It wasn’t four years later, on October 1, 1951, that the first play-off game was televised nationally. Which changed the nation forever, because on Oct 3, 1951, Bobby Thompson hit “the shot heard round the world”, allowing the New York Giants to defeat the Brooklyn Dodgers on a walk-off home run. A collective consciousness was born with the crack of Thompson’s bat.

Four years later, the World Series came to you, in color, on your TV screen. 19″ was considered De Luxe, and if you sit too close, you’ll hurt your eyes. That’s what my mother told me, and I’m sure mothers say that now, even when a 46″ flat screen TV is considered standard sized.

And the stadiums responded to TV. In 1965, the Astrodome (the 8th wonder of the world) had a screen on it’s scoreboard that played pre-programmed light graphics, and soon those graphics were everywhere. Bigger lights, more lights and so much info on the batter, why, you didn’t have to buy a scorecard any more.

Though the serious fan still buys one to this day. And brings his own pencil to keep score. Mechanical. So you can’t break the point. Even if you drop it on the stands.

I’m just saying . . .

And Comes Back Around To The Ballpark

image of jumbotron baseball replay

Most of the comforts of home. Image by cliff1066, used under Creative Commons

But the biggest change at the ballpark came in 1980, with the introduction of Diamond Vision. Which was a giant flat screen TV screen at the ball park. Now the fan in the stands got everything the at-home fan did. Instant replay. Super slo-mo. But alas,  no electronic strike zone. Honestly, the umps have enough trouble with balls, strikes and unruly fans that an electronic strike zone is like pouring water on a drowning man.

So it’s almost all the comforts of home in the stadium. And of course,  with mobile Wi-Fi at the ball park, you have the twitter feed, the sabermetrics, the on-line only camera angles, and the ability to stick the needle into your old college room mate, who still follows that sad excuse of a ball club your team is beating like a rented mule in the last days of October. I have the best smartphone . . .

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