How They Followed Baseball Before Radio, Or: Steampunk GamecastS

The Atlantic has a nifty look at century-old gadgets invented to bring baseball results to the masses as live as possible, at a time when the only options were attending a game or waiting for the evening newspaper. Or that monstrosity above.

Pictured here in 1924, the Coleman Lifelike was a sheet of painted fabric depicting a ball field. Looking carefully, you can make out the ghost-like images of players in the outfield and on the base paths. Where the magic of the Coleman happened, though, was backstage. There, a series of lights shone through the thin fabric indicate the progress and location of hits, base runners and fielders ... This was not a one man job. Several controlled the indicators, one acted as announcer. At far left, a young man sits at a teletype machine, ready to relay the action.

Later, there's creepy animatronic puppets. So go read the whole thing.