The History of How We Follow Baseball
I stumbled across Philip Bump’s October 26th, 2011, article on “The History of How We Follow Baseball.” Absolutely fascinating! Philip Bump is a developer, strategist and writer from Washington, D. C. His article appeared in The Atlantic, and is an excellent read.
It brought back memories of going to the local barbershop in Tennoji (south Osaka, Japan) in the early 1950s. The post-war (WWII) version of Nippon (Japan) Professional Baseball was ramping up, and the radio broadcasts were all the rage. You could also listen to selected high school and college games over the air. Most patrons would stay for the entire broadcast, and live and die on each pitch.
I remember a faded, thick, colored poster board, still on the wall, over in the far corner. I learned that this was used in the days before radio broadcasts were standard fare. A man would place something like a map pin on the appropriate base(s) to illustrate the progress of the game. I assume the results were being transmitted by teletype… or, by phone. How transcendent is baseball culture?!
Enjoy Philip Bump’s treatise!
“Baseball is a game both about the play-by-play and the greater statistical environment (really, the history) in which a game is occurring. Radio gives fans the play-by-play, but is not great at conveying the history. For fans who care about that context, they did what my father did as a kid in the 1950s: he’d listen to a game while keeping score on a sheet of paper. That way, he’d get both the radio’s play-by-play account, and the math that baseball fans love.”