Shibe Park opened in 1909 and was the perfect example of the kind of baseball parks that represented that era. Major League baseball in the early twentieth century had set precedence for the kind of parks that were being designed. The reinforced concrete, large bleacher areas and underground garage was accented with a domed tower. Shibe Park was not only a place to go, but over the years was an icon of Philadelphia. The fans, the summer, the park and the scoreboards reflected the times as they were at that moment.
The very first scoreboard at Shibe Park was pretty simplistic. You have to remember that during the early days, the baseball players didn’t even have uniform numbers. The point of the scoreboard was to give the watching public an update of the scores; and that was it. The names that were displayed simply said “Visitor” and “Philadelphia”. In 1913, when additional bleachers were added, the old scoreboard came down and a newer, larger version had to have a different location. It was also divided into two sections entitled “American League” and “National League”. Since both teams often had simultaneous games at the two different parks, the purpose was to keep everyone up-to-speed on all of the scores of both games. There was an individual with a ladder and poles at the bottom of the scoreboard that made the updates on the scoreboard.
As electricity was added to many parks, the Yankees became world renowned for adding an electronic scoreboard. This addition included a lot of information that would have been impossible to change by hand, including scores inning by inning, total runs, errors and hits as well as the results of other games that also happened to be in progress. Twenty years later, Shibe Park still didn’t buy into the electronic era and instead, erected a larger manually operated board in another location. One of the reasons was to keep some spectators from watching the games for free from the rooftops of their homes.
The name change from Shibe Park to Connie Mack Stadium also changed the look of the park itself. By 1956, the old scoreboard was brought down and they finally added an electronic version. It was fifty feet high and with a twist of irony, had actually been purchased from; you guessed it – the New York Yankees. This might have been a second-hand electronic scoreboard to some, but for the baseball fans, this was an incredible visual effect. Anyone that attended a game during that era would have seen the very top of the sign crowned with the Longines clock and the always memorable advertisement for Ballantine Beer that ran all the way across the sign. This version of the electronic scoreboard stood the test of time until finally, in 1976; the wrecking ball took it and the park down.
Generations of families attended baseball games at Shibe Park and later Connie Mack Stadium. The location as well as the scoreboards became a matter of family tradition.