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Auburn’s first amazing new scoreboard

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It’s hard to see, but that scoreboard in the background of this 1944 Glom photo of intramuralites apparently enjoying full access to Auburn’s awesome new football facility was amazing.

 

The impulse that will possibly soon raise a spaceship over Jordan-Hare: IMPROVE THE GAMEDAY EXPERIENCE.

It is the mantra, mantra, mantra of Auburn Athletics. And it was always thus.

Forty feet wide, 15 feet tall: These were the jaw-dropping specs for Jordan-Hare’s first scoreboard — “one of the most modern in the country” — that debuted at Auburn’s 1941 homecoming game against Clemson.

It was the latest demonstration of how the Auburn Athletics Department was, as erstwhile sports publicist Elmer Salter put it, “always striving to please Johnny Public.”

The people at Break Orbit Studios who know more about math and stadium specs and stuff than we do say this is what Auburn's proposed new scoreboard would look like. At 200 feet wide and 56 feet tall, it would be the largest college football scoreboard in the universe.
The people at Break Orbit Studios, who know more about math and stadium specs and stuff than we do, say this is what Auburn’s proposed new scoreboard would look like. At 200 feet wide and 56 feet tall, it would be the largest college football scoreboard in the universe.

 

Of course, Johnny Public was supposed to have had its scoreboard by the dedication of Auburn Stadium two years earlier. It didn’t happen. And it likely cost Auburn a victory. Knowing how much time you had left in a game — that could really come in handy when you were on the goal line with two seconds left. And for the modern football fan in 1941, it was becoming a must.

“After the game held last Saturday in the Auburn Stadium”–only the third game in the stadium in the two years since it was built–“we realize that the one thing that our stadium needs is a scoreboard,” the Plainsman opined after Auburn’s early season win over Louisiana Tech . “One doesn’t really see the necessity of such an object until he views a football game without one to refer to every few minutes.”

The Memorial Stadium scoreboard no doubt factored into outcome of Auburn's 1941 game vs. Georgia in Columbus, held a few weeks before Auburn's first stadium scoreboard was debuted.
The Memorial Stadium scoreboard no doubt factored into Georgia’s last-second win over Auburn a few weeks before Auburn’s first stadium scoreboard was debuted.

 

Buildings and Grounds got to work on such an object a few weeks later. It was steel, a full fifteen feet off the ground, and Coach Jack Meagher made sure it would be fully loaded: Time, score, downs, yardage, all spelled out in “a great number of lights.”

The scoreboard was paid for mostly with funds secured “through the untiring efforts” of Neal Collins, head of the Montgomery Auburn Alumni Club, and Howard Pill, one of the head honchos at Montgomery television radio station WSFA (and, what do you know, a Bama grad, like those 100 folks that helped pay for the stadium with their special souvenir tickets.)

The Plainsman was stoked.

This Glom photo of the crowning of Auburn's 1943 homecoming queen gives a slightly better view of the new scoreboard.
This Glom photo of the crowning of Auburn’s 1943 homecoming queen gives a slightly better view of the new scoreboard.

 

“Every Auburn student will really be proud of the scoreboard which will do a great deal towards helping the crowds in the stands enjoy the games held in the stadium more,” wrote managing editor Willard Hayes. “When a person is watching a game between two closely equal teams, the score is seven to six, the spectators’ team is behind and there is one minute left to play, the scoreboard at the head of the stadium is watched almost as much as the two teams on the playing field.”

Seventy-four years worth of advances in peripheral vision retention later, it may soon be impossible not to watch the scoreboard as much as the two teams on the playing field, however much time is left in the game.

If you’d like to help TWER continue to set sail for undiscovered countries of Auburn history, please click here.

More fun Jordan-Hare origin stories:

* A list of the first items ever lost and found in Jordan-Hare Stadium
* The almost names of Jordan-Hare Stadium
* Rare shot of ‘Hare Stadium’
* Poor communication by official cost Auburn a win over Florida in first game played in Jordan-Hare Stadium
* The original capacity of Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium was twice as much as everyone says
* How FDR’s ‘Franksgiving’ fiasco nearly spoiled the dedication of Auburn Stadium

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About Jeremy Henderson

Jeremy Henderson is the editor of The War Eagle Reader and co-host of Rich and Jeremy in the Mornings on Wings 94.3 FM in Auburn. Follow him on Twitter: @wareaglereader / @jerthoughts / @RichandJeremy

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