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JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post

I just happened upon this, but since it is the British Open and all I though to publish it here. The map was composed for the Illustrated London News, 3 July 1920, by W.B. Robinson. It shows the number of links around the city of London–seems like a lot to me, and this data doesn't even include miniature golf, which was very big at this time. The Key: M = a "membership" club; L = Ladies; A = "associate", and the year underneath is the year the course was organized. The game is evidently older in Scotland, but around London golf dates to the time of James I.


JF Ptak Science Books Post 1504

When I think of old-timey baseball, the images of roomy woolen uniforms, cigars-on-trains, daytime games, underpaid stars, heavy baseballs, and, um. “colorful” nicknames spring to mind. And back in there, eighty or a hundred years ago, baseball has had its minor league steampunk days, much like most other things: sporty adventures filled with outsized protective bits, simple things turned into fancy mega-geared complexities, over-the-top metal extrusions, steely encumbrances, and over-thought subtleties turned into under-thought necessaries.

Take for example the following baseball glove from 1905. The sport was four or five decades old at this point, yet there was a person, still, who came up with an idea for a baseball mitt so bad that it must’ve burnt the pen used to draw it. Not only does the glove make it very difficult for the player to run, but also makes it rather difficult for anything else to happen, too.

I’m not sure when the first batting practice cages appeared (much like I can never remember when the first pinstripes appeared, or the real year for the first players with numbers on their backs), but this one from 1909 seems rather early, and comes complete with derby-and-sports-coated pitcher:

I do like this swinging apparatus, perhaps more for the idea of it, or the design, than anything else:

And this is quite lovely: a paper dispenser for home plate, so that the base could always be easily seen by all involved. The paper was located underneath the base, and pulled across for new paper when dirty. Why the umpire couldn’t just sweep it clean with their little umpire brushes like they do now, I don’t know:

This series of diagrams for a night game lighting system (1904) are lovely things in themselves, particularly the second drawing (“figure 3″):


I have a sort spot for any sort of movable, paper calculator, calculating anything: the gas mileage for a 1960 Rambler, air speed calculators for planes, effects of nuclear explosions, and of course a multi-disc baseball game schedule calculator (1909):

This gorgeous beast was a heavy, wooden apparatus for a full-scale solitary baseball game, much like its predecessor table-top varieties, only bigger, much bigger:

The full-scale environment above came with an automatic pitching device, seen below, a fantastic thing, and beautiful in its gear-y complexity:

For some reason this glove reminds me of cake (1895):

As much as I wanted this to be a full-size robo-pitcher, it wasn’t: it is though a lovely little version of a pitching robot, a toy with what looks like real staying power:

This is just a good idea, though it would be hard to store these things if you went to 20 or 30 games a year for a few decades:

These are simply terrific drawings, though the glove looks very cumbersome (1895):

Its interesting to see that in just a decade-and-a-half that the baseball glove is starting to look like something more modern:

The proposal for bases with bells in them might’ve seemed helpful to the non-baseball-person inventor, but, well, it really wasn’t, but the idea gets a complete-and-total pass since it came a year before the Centennial:

This is interesting to me as I can’t recall if I knew how long baseballs have been stitched in the same way, or how long the seams of the ball have been in the predictably same pattern from ballclub to ballclub–and I still don’t. This is an 1876 proposal for a baseball ball covering, different from what we know–I don’t know much about the history of the ball itself:

JF Ptak Science Books Post 1262 (Rapid Post)

The following photographs are part of a large-ish archive of news photo service images for the years 1917 and 1918–all are made by American firms, and almost all are related in one way or the other to WWI. The images below are among the very few depicting wartime sports, and in all cases, these "sports" was baseball.

The first photo is a rather remarkable image of summer training for (as is stamped on the back of the image) "the New York American league" baseball club, which must be the New York Yankees, then in their 17th year as themselves.

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And the details:

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In 1918 many teams involved their players in "military training", and this picture shows the Yankees (along with coaches and writers) doing their part to make it look as though they were making some sort of good effort having to do with the war. During the 1918 most teams mostly/sorta let the season go–not so for the Yankees or for Boston (which one its only 20th century World Series title that year).

Lovely image of two baseball ushers, 1918:

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WWI--e--women usher dets685

Also, this lovely picture:


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And lastly, this:

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JF Ptak Science Books LLC Post 362

000-ebay--Nov 8 stiltsmen016
The title for this rather unwieldy idea of a competition (from the Scientific American, Supplement for 7 July 1894) , "A Race
Between Pedestrians, Stiltsmern and Horses" begs the question, "Why?"–or at the very least, the title of the article really should have had a
question mark at the end, rather than being a declaration. (This is one of those wonderful serendipitous finds–I was looking for an article deeper in this issue on the magneto for the Bell telephone; but it was this extraordinary story that wound up on the front page, under the pretty banner of the magazine.)

As it turns out, this was an exceptionally serious race, as it was 250 miles in length–I have no idea why it should've been so terrifically long, but it was. The officials were deluged with applicants; so many, in fact, that who ever was in charge decided to go with only three representative for each category. I can imagine in my happiest state what it would have looked like trying to administer a race like this where there were hundreds of stiltsmen/runners/horse teams strung out along a 250-mile long course.

After several preliminary reports, we read that after 141 miles that all of the pedestrian competitors had dropped away, leaving two horse teams and all of the stiltsmen. At the 180-mile mark we learn that all were about neck-and-neck, with one of the stiltsmen completing the distance in 44 hours and 44 minutes (or about 4.5 mph).

000-ebay--Nov 8 stiltsmen015
What happens next in the announcenment of the victor is that there is
no announcenment. In the pernicious denouement, the article states:
"let us say in conclusion" which was hardly so, "that the horsemen and
stiltsmen were in perfect condition, a fact which, a priori seems
extraordinary". We do learn, however, about the pulse and respiration
of the contestants (?), though we are not told if the numbers were for
active or resting, sitting or standing etc. positions–hardly a
satisfactory ending, especially after having to read the word
"stiltsmen" so many times.