Eric Zorn’s call for umpires with laser beams on their heads sent me on a quest to track down the patent he mentions, a 1932 automatic umpire consisting of an “elaborate, vertical light-beam apparatus [that] would illuminate the underside of the ball only if it passed over the correct area.”

I think Zorn’s a bit off–the patent he mentions might be the first automatic umpire employing light, but I found an earlier automatic umpire from 1909 designed by Harry E. Hire which uses a padded backstop and a bell. It seems fatally flawed, but the bell is a nice, county-fair touch that QuesTec should consider, and perhaps a kazoo noise for a ball.

But I couldn’t stop there. Below: we are not baseball players! We are Devo!

A “streamlined bat or the like” that street thugs don’t have to go to the trouble of driving a nail through.

A cap that converts into a baseball glove for the home-run-ball-desiring fan.