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:
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):
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:
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: