The Play-O-Graph


 

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Crowd watching the 1911 World Series on a Play-O-Graph outside the New York Herald building. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

What did we do before television? How did people watch baseball? Of course, there were radio broadcasts, but there was also the Play-O-Graph. This animatronic machine simulated the action in the game on a large replica of the field. Operation of the Play-O-Graph required a telegraph operator transmitting the action in the game and two operators moving the graphics around the board to represent the live-action game.

Play-O-Graph machines seem to have been found most often outside of newspaper buildings. As the picture above shows, the Play-O-Graph depicted what was happening in the game, while the ad above it encouraged people to read the paper “for full details of the game.” According to an article posted on Citylab.com, in the early 1900s, numerous patents were issued for similar systems. Competing products included, the Nokes Electrascore, the Compton Electric Base Ball Game Impersonator, and the Jackson Manikin Baseball Indicator.

Thanks to Old-Time Baseball Photos for cluing me into this awesome invention! There have actually been several articles and blog posts written about the Play-O-Graph, so check them out for more info – and check out some more Play-O-Graph pics below.

~ baseballrebecca

 

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Play-O-Graph sponsored by The Washington Post, depicting the 1912 World Series. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress

 

 

 

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Play-o-graph in front of the Evening Press office in Muncie, Indiana, ca. 1923. Photo courtesy of the Ball State University Libraries’ W. A. Swift Photographs Collection.
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Crowd viewing the World Series on a Play-O-Graph in Laramie, WY, 1926. Photo courtesy of Pinterest.
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Watching with One Eye Open


Who would have thought the final days of the 2012 MLB season would be so exciting? At least for those of us in the Washington/Baltimore area. Even Sports Illustrated and Sports Weekly took notice of our guys this week (and put them on their covers)!

So, I was a little worried about leaving town this weekend. Its hard to be separated from those you love, even if its to go on another baseball adventure with your best baseball buddy. But, as it turned out, there was no need to worry and, actually, it probably was better for my blood pressure not to be sitting at home watching the O’s and Nats tie and untie their respective games.

Thanks to the brand new Marlins Park, my handy-dandy cell phone with the MLB app, and Twitter I was able to #BUCKleUp, show my #Natitude, and keep track of my guys from afar. With one eye on the Marlins and the other on the scoreboard, I felt that I was there for all of my teams. And at the end of the day, it all turned out quite nicely!  Go O’s! Go Nats!

~ baseballrebecca

Baseball and Technology, part 2


Totally cool scoreboard at PNC ParkThe other day I was thinking about the uses of technology for the average baseball fan. But what about for the teams and the players? In 2008, baseball became pretty much the last professional sport to use instant replay in the game, and only in limited circumstances. Debate continues over whether this is good or bad for the game.

As I did research for this post, I was reminded of a now classic article that has become required reading for all Sport Sociology classes. Perhaps technology just doesn’t live up to the pastoral image of baseball.

As a pastoral game, baseball attempts to close the gap between the players and the crowd. It creates the illusion, for instance, that with a lot a hard work, a little luck, and possibly some extra talent, the average spectator might well be playing; not watching. … As a heroic game, football is not concerned with a shared community of near-equals. It seeks almost the opposite relationship between its spectators and players, one which stresses the distance between them.

Source: Murray Ross, “Football Red and Baseball Green,” reprinted in Peter I. Rose, ed., The Study of Society, 1977

~ baseballrebecca

Baseball and Technology, part 1


I am new to the world of fancy technology like smart phones.  But recently I’ve learned just how valuable this new technology can be for baseball fans.  You can get all kinds of fun apps that can keep you tuned into the game even if you’re at the gym, on the road, or stuck at work. 

Scoreboard at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa

Just the other day I discovered that I could even watch and listen to games on my phone!  The work day just became a whole lot more interesting!  Here’s to more day games!

There are other uses for this nifty technology, as well.  While at a Spring Training game, my technology adept baseball buddy taught me how to use my phone to follow the game.  It was Spring Training, and the stadium didn’t have all the bells and whistles of the typical big league park – no electronic signs to tell us how fast the ball was going, no state-of-the-art sound system, and really bad video re-plays.  But with the use of my phone, I was able to follow the game, though with a slight time delay for the data to reach the phone app.

It was definitely a 21st century experience:  sitting at a picnic table at the ballpark, watching the game on a TV screen, and following the play by play on a smart phone. 

I highly recommend it!

~ baseballrebecca