Granillo: Capturing the photo finish

From SABR member Larry Granillo at Baseball Prospectus on August 30, 2012:

We’ve talked about primitive examples of robot umpires before—and [SABR member] Michael Clair of Old Time Family Baseball later took a wonderfully thorough look at the topic—but here’s a slightly different take on the concept from 1942:

The camera, like most of the other Dumont innovations, will be concealed under the ground.

When a runner starts from third for home the button-puncher goes into action and the camera rises to record everything that happens within 10 feet of home plate.

So far, so good, ridiculous optimism for the timing and accuracy of 1940s technology aside. But then we see this:

On close plays, Dumont says, the films will be developed immediately, and at the feature night games the lights in the park will be turned off and the picture projected, in slow motion, on a huge screen in the outfield.

Ray Dumont, the man mentioned here, was a Kansas promoter who helped create the National Semi-Pro Baseball Congress (now simply known as the National Baseball Congress, or NBC) in the 1930s. Earlier in the article, Dumont is described as a “futuristic young man” who “overlooks no new stunt which might lure customers”. An automatic home plate duster (“to relieve the umpire of the bends”) and a “leaping microphone” that let fans hear player-umpire arguments are cited as stunts Dumont had recently tried in the NBC. Neither sound nearly as complicated or far-fetched as this photo-finish machine, though.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: August 30, 2012. Last Updated: August 30, 2012.