May 1959 Popular Electronics
Table of Contents
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles
published October 1954 - April 1985. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged.
We are solidly in the middle
of baseball season in America, so this "Carl &
Jerry" story from a 1950 edition of Popular Electronics comes at a
good time. As is the case with many "Carl & Jerry" episodes, this one involves
the use of an amateur radio rig. Find out how and why Jerry willingly commits "Baseball
Interference" (BBI) to beat the opposing team at their own game. I feel obligated
to point out that although it was for a good cause, Jerry actually violated the
FCC regulation for Amateur radio operators stating that no broadcaster may intentionally
interfere with another person's transmission. Title
CFR 97.101(d) General Standards - "No amateur operator shall willfully or maliciously
interfere with or cause interference to any radio communication or signal." BTW,
up until a few years ago, we didn't have MLB with a bunch of virtual-signaling players
and club owners who regularly insult half (or more) of their supporters. Instead,
baseball was all about sporting behavior and having fun.
Carl & Jerry: "BBI"
By John T. Frye W9EGV
The bat met the ball with a thud and sent it almost straight up into the air.
Jerry tore off his catcher's mask and ran around in a little circle as his eyes
searched wildly for the ball against the bright blue sky. Just in time he spotted
it and stepped forward to catch it neatly in the deep pocket of his mitt for a third
out. His pal, Carl, stepped off the pitcher's mound and trudged wearily toward the
Center City bench while the Cedar Creek Giants ran happily out onto the diamond.
They had something to be happy about.
The score board announced it was the last of the seventh inning and that the
Cedar Creek Giants had seven runs. Chalked up opposite the Center City Sluggers
was a series of big fat goose eggs.
Jerry struggled out of his chest protector and sat down on the bench beside Carl.
"I just don't get it!" he said as he angrily drove his fist into his catcher's
mitt. "They're not that much better than we are."
"It's not who wins that counts; it's how you play the game!" Carl chanted.
"Yeah, I know; but that's the trouble with being a good sport. You've got to
lose to prove you are one. I'd like to demonstrate what gracious winners we can
"I'm with you! What really bugs me is the way they seem to know every move we're
going to make. They seem to know what kind of ball I'm going to pitch, when I'm
going to try to catch a runner off base, and exactly who is supposed to take a high
fly. It's spooky in a sandlot team that doesn't get any more practice than we do."
"Maybe they're hep to my signals, but I'm doggone careful to conceal them from
anyone on their bench. Do you suppose -" He was interrupted by Kent, the youngest
member of their amateur radio club.
This fourteen-year-old boy ate, drank, and slept radio. It was typical that he
was tugging at Jerry's elbow with one hand and clutching a two-meter transceiver
in the other.
"Hey, Jerry, listen to this!"
"Some other time, Kent," Jerry said impatiently as he shrugged off the "child"
- who was a whole two years younger! "We've got a problem now."
"I know you have. That's why I want you to listen!" Kent insisted as he jigged
up and down in his impatience.
At this moment the Center City batter hit a high fly out into right center field.
A faint voice came from the speaker of the transceiver: "Let Murphy have it, Jonesy.
Take it Murph." Both the center-fielder and the right-fielder had been running toward
the ball, but as the voice spoke the center-fielder stopped and let the right-fielder
make an easy catch for a first out.
"Let me have that thing!" Jerry commanded. As the three of them listened intently,
they could hear the same voice giving instructions to the pitcher: "This guy is
a sucker for a slow ball. Try one. Thaaat's fine. Now he's crowding the plate. Put
one over the inside corner and scare him back a little."
"See that guy sitting all by himself out at the edge of the trees in center field?"
Kent asked. "He's the bird doing the talking. When I get close to him, the signal
really booms in. His transmitter is pretty low-powered, for the signal falls off
rapidly as you get away from the diamond. Jerry, he's been relaying to the batter
every signal you gave to Carl."
Listening for the next few minutes revealed that the Giants didn't just seem
to know what the Sluggers were going to do next. They knew! It was apparent that
each member of the team had some sort of miniature receiver - doubtless transistorized
- concealed in his cap. A bone-conduction earphone attached to the skull enabled
them to hear every word spoken by the sharp-eyed observer who was equipped with
a miniature transmitter and a pair of high-powered binoculars. What's more, this
observer knew the Sluggers' signals better than they knew them themselves!
"Why the dirty so-and-so's!" Carl exclaimed. "Here! Give me that transceiver
microphone and let me tell them off."
"Hold on!" Jerry objected. "Maybe, if they don't know we're on to their electronic
caper, we can turn it to our advantage. First off, we've got to cross up their intercepting
my signals to you. We don't have time to make up a whole new set of signals, but
suppose we do this: I'll make an ordinary signal that you can disregard; but then
I'll wiggle my mitt up and down in Morse code. You know the way we send silent code
in study hall just by tapping an imaginary key with our fingers. It will be the
same except you will see me punching an imaginary key with the mitt. We can use
initials. 'IC' will mean 'inside curve;' "FB' will be 'fast ball;' 'W' will mean
'walk;' etc. Usually the false hand signal will be just the opposite of the real
code signal. Dig me?"
"Yeah, I dig you; but it sounds pretty tricky. I'll have to study it out as we
go along. I'm going to be a very deliberate pitcher from here on in."
"Fine! Now let's pass the word along to the rest of the team."
... "I just don't get it!" Jerry said angrily ...
When the other boys learned about the electronic skullduggery afoot, they were
properly indignant. This resentment actually worked to their advantage. Still seething,
they stepped up to the plate one after another and angrily drove out solid hits.
When the inning was over, the score stood 7 to 4.
... "Give me that transceiver microphone" ...
And the first half of the eighth was a far different story from what the other
innings had been. Jerry made sure the man with the binoculars got a good look at
his false signal to Carl; then he casually called for the pitch he wanted by moving
his mitt up and down. The effect was much more puzzling to the batter than if he
had simply been allowed to go on his own. It was very disconcerting to be expecting
a slow ball and then have one cross the plate like a rifle bullet. The net result
of the double double-cross was three up and three down. The Giants never got a man
During the last of the eighth the Sluggers picked up two more runs, making the
score 7 to 6. Jerry spent every minute with his ear glued to the speaker of the
transceiver trying to figure out a way to turn the Giants' trickery to the Sluggers'
advantage; but no opportunity presented itself. The first of the ninth was a repetition
of the first of the previous inning: three up and three down.
But fickle luck once more turned against the Sluggers as they came to bat. The
first man up never touched the ball as three strikes were called on him in quick
succession. The next man up drove a hot grounder to the shortstop that was rifted
across to cut off the runner at first with seconds to spare. The third man, though,
did barely manage to get on first with a drive just over the second baseman's head.
It was Carl's turn to bat.
... "No, you take it, Murph; on second thought -" ...
Carl was far and away the best hitter the Sluggers had, and at first it seemed
that the pitcher intended to walk him. The first two pitches were wide of the plate.
But the third drilled straight across the center to land in the catcher's mitt with
a solid smack for a called strike. Jerry could see Carl's hands tightening on the
bat handle as the pitcher started his wind-up, but once more the ball was wide of
The next one was too close to let pass, and Carl swung at it. His bat nicked
the ball, but that was all. "Stri-i-i-ke Two!" the umpire cried as he held up three
fingers on one hand and two on the other.
Carl pounded the plate savagely with his bat and tensed his lean body. The pitcher
started a slow windup and then uncoiled to speed the ball straight across the rubber.
It was now or never! Carl swung with all his might and there was a solid crack of
wood meeting horsehide. But a groan arose from the Sluggers' bench as they saw the
hard-hit ball sailing too high in the air as it went toward a point midway between
the stations of the right-fielder and the center-fielder. Both men started running
toward it with their eyes on the ball.
"You take it, Jonesy. Let him have it, Murph," Jerry heard the voice saying in
the speaker of the transceiver. In a flash Jerry pushed down the transmit switch
on the transceiver and said loudly into the microphone: "No, you take it, Murph;
you're closer. On second thought, you better get it after all, Jonesy."
He left the transmit-receive switch in the transmit position to block out the
signal from the other transmitter and watched in fascination as the two outfielders
hesitated a second, then went charging toward each other with their gloves out-stretched.
They came together with a crashing shock and then bounced apart to fall flat on
their backs as the untouched ball bounced lazily along the ground.
It was several seconds before the two stunned boys rolled over and got painfully
to their feet. In the meantime Carl had loped around the bases in hot pursuit of
the other runner, and the game was over.
The Sluggers dashed out of their dugout to thump Carl on the back, but Jerry
hung back to watch the man out at the edge of the trees. The two injured outfielders
stalked over and towered threateningly over him as the rest of the Giants joined
them. The man sitting on the ground waved his arms wildly and shook his head vigorously
from side to side; but what he was saying seemed to carry little weight with the
members of the team.
As Carl and Jerry helped load the equipment into the back of the manager's station
wagon, they grinned happily at each other. Winning the game was nice, of course;
but winning it by outsmarting the tricky Giants at their own game - and doing it
electronically-indeed made their cup runneth over.
"I'll bet that's the last time the Giants use that gadget," Carl said as he glanced
across to the angry huddle at the edge of the trees.
"You can say that again," Jerry agreed.
"And I was just thinking we've invented a new kind of interference. I've been
accused of BCI, or broadcast interference; and TVI, or television interference;
and I didn't like it a bit. But how I know I'm guilty of BBI, or baseball interference;
and all I feel is a kind of warm, contented glow!"
Carl Anderson and Jerry Bishop were two teenage boys whose
love of electronics, Ham radio, and all things technical afforded them ample opportunities
to satisfy their own curiosities, assist law enforcement and neighbors with solving
problems, and impressing – and sometimes toying with - friends based on their proclivity
for serious undertakings as well as fun.
- The Black Beast - May 1960
Vox Electronik, September 1958
- Pi in
the Sky and Big Twist, February 1964
Bell Bull Session, December 1961
Boogie, August 1958
- TV Picture,
Electronic Eraser, August 1962
Trap, March 1956
at Work, June 1956
Aweigh, July 1956
Bosco Has His Day, August 1956
Hand of Selene, November 1960
or Not?, October 1956
Electronic Beach Buggy, September 1956
Extra Sensory Perception, December 1956
in a Chimney, January 1956
Performance, November 1958
of Judas, July 1961
- The Sucker,
New Year, January 1963
Snow Machine, December 1960
Extracurricular Education, July 1963
Slow Motion for Quick Action, April 1963
Sleuthing, August 1963
- TV Antennas,
a Soroban, March 1963
Fair --", September 1963
Worm Warming, May 1961
Joking and Jeopardy - December 1963
Santa's Little Helpers - December 1955
Two Tough Customers - June 1960
Pocket Radio, TV Receivers
Yagi Antennas, May 1955
Stomping, March 1962
Blubber Banisher, July 1959
- The Sparkling
Light, May 1962
Research Rewarded, June 1962
- A Hot Idea, March
- The Hot
Dog Case, December 1954
A New Company is Launched, October 1956
Under the Mistletoe, December 1958
Electronic Eraser, August 1962
- "BBI", May 1959
Sound Waves, July 1955
- The River
Sniffer, July 1962
- Ham Radio,
Torero Electronico, April 1960
Wireless, January 1962
Electronic Shadow, September 1957
Elementary Induction, June 1963
- He Went
Electronic Detective, February 1958
Aiding an Instinct, December 1962
- Two Detectors,
with a Tachometer, July 1960
and the Pirates, April 1961
The Crazy Clock Caper, October 1960
Carl & Jerry: Their Complete Adventures is
now available. "From 1954 through 1964, Popular Electronics published 119 adventures
of Carl Anderson and Jerry Bishop, two teen boys with a passion for electronics
and a knack for getting into and out of trouble with haywire lash-ups built in Jerry's
basement. Better still, the boys explained how it all worked, and in doing so, launched
countless young people into careers in science and technology. Now, for the first
time ever, the full run of Carl and Jerry yarns by John T. Frye are available again,
in five authorized anthologies that include the full text and all illustrations."
Posted July 16, 2021
(updated from original post on 6/30/2014)