In 1908, Chicago inventor George A. Baird developed an electric baseball scoreboard that recorded balls, strikes, and outs. While Baird’s invention was tested by Boston’s two major league clubs, it didn’t immediately catch on across the league. Team owners were hesitant to provide information to fans for fear that it would cut into the sale of scorecards, but the electric scoreboard signaled an eventual shift in the in-game experience at stadiums and arenas. Over the next two decades, manually operated scoreboards evolved to feature more information than the score. Lineups with player names and numbers were displayed, along with scores and pitchers’ numbers from games around the league...Read the entire article...
When Yankee Stadium opened in 1923, it featured a large manually operated scoreboard in right field that was visible to every spectator in the park. In 1950, the Yankees unveiled an electric scoreboard that the team called “the most efficient scoreboard ever built and, in general, a big stride forward.” The Yankees’ new scoreboard was operated by two men as opposed to five and featured a non-glare enamel covering...
Before the 1959 season, the Yankees made another upgrade, installing the first scoreboard to feature a changeable message display. The New York Times, which dubbed the new scoreboard “the electronic miracle,” provided the specifics: “The board will contain 11,210 lamps with a wattage of 115,000, 619,000 feet of electric cable, will weigh 25 tons (not including the steel supporting structure), will have more than 4,860 push buttons on the master control console and will have a total face area of 4,782 square feet.”
Wrigley Field’s iconic 89-foot scoreboard was built in 1937 under the direction of flamboyant club treasurer and future White Sox owner Bill Veeck, whose father was team president until he died in 1933. Most of the original Wrigley Field scoreboard, which still stands today, is manually operated, but the batter’s number, balls, strikes, and outs are displayed electronically in the center portion of the board. The original control panel is still in use.
“What’s baseball coming to?”
That’s what former White Sox manager Jimmy Dykes asked after Comiskey Park’s exploding scoreboard, which featured multi-colored pinwheels and shot off fireworks after every home run by a Chicago player, was unveiled in 1960. “All I know is that if I was a pitcher whose home run ball had started that Fourth of July celebration, I’d fire my next pitch at the head of the next hitter,” Dykes told a reporter. While some opponents resented the extravagant display, which was another one of Veeck’s ideas, the unique scoreboard design was retained when Chicago’s current stadium opened in 1991.
Bigger and Better
When the Houston Astrodome opened in 1965, its 474-foot wide scoreboard was the largest in all of sports. The scoreboard featured 50,000 lights that erupted in a 45-second animated display of cowboys, ricocheting bullets, flags, steers, and fireworks after every Astros home run or victory. The display was set to a soundtrack that included “The Eyes of Texas.”
The Los Angeles Dodgers unveiled a $3 million, 875-square foot video board at the 1980 All-Star Game. Mitsubishi’s Diamond Vision, which enabled operators to show replays using a VCR, was the first video board of its kind and a sign of things to come. Similar video boards soon became standard in stadiums and arenas, as the resolution and functionality of the screens improved and Sony entered the market with its popular JumboTron. In 2009, the Dallas Cowboys unveiled the world’s largest high-definition video display, an LED scoreboard developed by Mitsubishi.
Other Iconic Baseball Scoreboards
Jul 8, 2010
Here's a great post from the mental_floss Blog, chronicling the technical evolution of video scoreboards over the past century or so. The article is full of great photos, and here are some highlights:
Jul 5, 2010
Breaking news: Scented Billboard Gives Off Smell of BBQ Steak.
Jul 2, 2010
Last month, the LA Dodgers enlisted the help of Ozzy Osborne in an attempt to set a Guiness record for the world's loudest scream. Here's a video. From Ozzy.com:
Ozzy to lead Dodger Stadium crowd in Guinness World Records® Attempt for Loudest Scream
OZZY OSBOURNE will lead Dodgers fans in what will potentially be the Guinness World Record-holding longest and loudest scream this Friday, June 11 during the 5th inning break when the Dodgers play against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. As part of the third annual ThinkCure! Weekend at Dodger Stadium this Friday, June 11 and Saturday, June 12, Ozzy and his wife Sharon Osbourne, a cancer survivor, will lend their support to ThinkCure! This stadium-wide scream is also in celebration of Osbourne’s upcoming Epic Records album SCREAM, due out June 22.
During Friday’s game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at 7:10 p.m. fans will be prompted to save their loudest scream for the middle of the 5th inning when Ozzy Osbourne and Stuart Claxton of Guinness World Records will take the field and lead the crowd in a “Scream for a Cure.” The stadium’s scream will be measured in length and audio level in hopes of breaking the world record. Additionally, Sharon Osbourne lent her support to ThinkCure! by recording a promotional message that will air in-game and during the telethon and online.
Fans can also donate to the ThinkCure! Weekend online at www.dodgers.com/thinkcureweekend and www.thinkcure.org by calling (866) 554-CURE or by texting CURE to 50555 to make a $10 donation through their mobile phone bill.
ThinkCure! is an innovative, community-based non-profit that accelerates collaborative research to cure cancers. It was launched in July 2007 by the Los Angeles Dodgers, the McCourt family, City of Hope and Childrens Hospital Los Angeles.