[Bill Veeck discusses Wrigley scoreboard]

On a sunny day outside Wrigley Field, Bill Veeck talks about the importance of the Wrigley Field scoreboard. He compares it to the electronic scoreboards around the league. Veeck goes on to talk about the inception of the Comiskey Park scoreboard and publicity stunts.

00:00Copy video clip URL This tape begins with color bars and tone.

00:22Copy video clip URL Open on a shot of the Chicago Cubs sign atop Wrigley Field. The videomakers make a few adjustments before beginning the interview.

01:27Copy video clip URL Cut to a shot of Veeck. He starts right in talking about the Wrigley Field scoreboard. Veeck says, “You know it’s actually a remarkable thing in Chicago. I wonder if there’s any other piece of mechanical equipment that’s been out in the rain, and the snow, and sunshine, and still works after almost fifty years.” Veeck then talks about the board’s inception. He was in charge of Wrigley Field construction at the time. “It works perfectly for day baseball. It’s absolutely ideal because when the sun sets, or as it begins to set, and those rays come straight across the top of the upper deck it kills lights. But this board looks better.”

03:09Copy video clip URL Veeck talks about the physics of the board and the fact that it has a continuing record of other games being played around the league. He goes on to express his disdain of the applause meter found on many electronic scoreboards. “That is presumptuous to think that there aren’t fans in the ballpark who know more than the operator about when to applaud. If they want to applaud, they will! And the idea that you have to be told is absolute sheer stupidity.”

04:24Copy video clip URL Veeck is asked about his having to put the scoreboard together in an extremely short amount of time in 1937. Veeck recalls the struggle he and the ground crew had to go through in order to get the board up and running by game time later that day.

05:01Copy video clip URL Veeck begins to talk about the exploding scoreboard at Comiskey Park. He explains that he got the idea from playwright William Saroyan. Veeck states that the exploding scoreboard emphasizes the importance of home runs. “Home runs really–strangely enough, except for the result–are dull because it happens so fast. It isn’t like a triple where the bases, with everybody running and keep running. It’s just boom and then it’s gone. So I thought, ‘ah, we’ll try and make this more dramatic.’ … It created a whole new philosophy about boards–that they don’t have to be static, that they can be interesting and add an extra facet to the game. The only thing is I didn’t dream that I would create once again a monster, like Dr. Frankenstein, that would try and usurp the ballgame.”

07:58Copy video clip URL Veeck talks about the installation of the fireworks in the scoreboard at Comiskey Park. He also continues to emphasize the importance of home runs. At the time, the White Sox were a low scoring team. “It made the few we hit so much more important because obviously you weren’t going to shoot off the board of the opposition. That was part of the theory.”

10:05Copy video clip URL Veeck talks about alterations made to the Comiskey scoreboard, specifically about the television screen that had been installed in recent years. Veeck talks about the board itself stealing a sense of spontaneity from the game. Veeck then refers to the board as “shock treatment.” Veeck had heard this term from the fireworks handler of the scoreboard.

12:51Copy video clip URL Veeck talks about the use of the instant replay in baseball. Veeck talks about the effects of the instant replay on the umpires in the league. Before the end of the tape, Veeck states that the board is important to day baseball. He also says that the installation of an electronic league score listing upon the upper deck offends him “because it doesn’t go with the rest of the ballpark.” The tape ends shortly afterward.

15:48Copy video clip URL Tape ends

 

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