Edward Sims Van Zile

American writer (1863-1931)

Edward Sims Van Zile (May 2, 1863 - May 29, 1931) was an American writer. He published fiction, non-fiction, biographies, a commentary on war, and a history of the early days of movies.[1][2] In 1904, in an essay about him, Book News Biographies said "for the past ten years Mr. Van Zile has been known to the reading public through many short stories, novelettes and a few novels".[1]

Edward Sims Van Zile
Edward Sims Van Zile (1863-1931) circa 1917.jpg
Van Zile circa 1917
Born(1863-05-02)May 2, 1863
DiedMay 29, 1931(1931-05-29) (aged 68)
Cause of deathstroke
EducationTrinity College, Hartford, Connecticut
TitleDoctor of Letters (honorary)
Parent(s)Oscar Edward Van Zile
Sarah Melinda Perry


He was born on May 2, 1863 in Troy, New York to Oscar Edward Van Zile and Sarah Melinda Perry. He was a descendant of Hollanders who came to America in the 17th century.[1] As a boy he read everything he could on every subject. He graduated from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut in 1884.[1] In 1904 the college gave him the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters.[1] In addition to several books and articles, he wrote a libretto for a musical comedy.[1]

In 1887 he married Mary Bulkeley. They had a daughter, Winifred Van Zile (1902-1902). He died on May 29, 1931 of a stroke at his home at 439 East Fifty-first Street in Manhattan, New York City.[2] He was buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery in Hartford, Connecticut.

A timely inventionEdit

By 1876, baseball scores were telegraphed, inning by inning, to newspaper offices.[3] Fans who did not want to wait for the newspaper coverage of away games waited at newspaper offices. Some newspapers put up blackboards trying to show the progress of a game as they received the telegraphs. In 1888, Van Zile was working as an editorial writer at the New York World.[3] He found himself doodling an idea on a notepad. He was, subconsciously he later said, working out a diagram of a baseball diamond. On it he showed pegs indicating the positions of players and other information.[3] Edwin Grozier, at the time Private Secretary to Joseph Pulitzer, looking over his shoulder said "Van Zile, you get that idea patented, and I'll give you $250 for your interest in it."[3] He had come up with what he called a "Bulletin Board and Base Ball Indicator." He filed for a patent in 1888 and it was issued in 1889.[3] It was a major breakthrough in showing the progress of baseball games. The World newspaper placed a large version of it outside their offices for that year’s baseball championship series. It was a tremendous hit. Crowds of up to 6,000 watched to get a play-by-play view of the games.[3]



  • That Marvel - The Movie; A Glance at Its Reckless Past, Its Promising Present, and Its Significant Future. With an introduction. by Will H. Hays. Published in 1923 by G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York & London, The Knickerbocker Press.[4]
  • With Sword and Crucifix: Being an Account of the Strange Adventures of Count Louis de Sancerre, Companion of Sieur de la Salle, on the Lower Mississippi in the Year of Grace 1682. Published by Harper & Bros., New York and London, 1900 - Biography & Autobiography - 298 pages[5]
  • Kings in Adversity, Published by F. Tennyson Neely, 114 Fifth Avenue, 1897[6]
  • The Game of Empires, a Warning to America; with Prefatory Note by Theodore Roosevelt, published by Moffat, 1915. About 300 pages of cynical comments on war before page 302 reflected the Rooseveltian point of the book.[7]


  • The last of the Van Slacks; a story of to-day (1889)[6]
  • A magnetic man and other stories (1890)
  • Don Miguel, and other stories (1891)
  • The Manhattaners; a story of the hour (1900)[6]
  • A duke and his double (1903)[1]
  • Defending the bank (1903)


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Book News. J. Wanamaker. 1904. p. 75.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Edward S. Van Zile, Author, Dead at 68. Fiction Writer and Journalist for 30 Years Succumbs to Stroke in Home Here". New York Times. May 30, 1931. Retrieved 2015-05-15.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Mark Schubin (Fall 2012). "Watching Baseball Games Remotely Before Television" (PDF). Sports Tech Journal. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 6 October 2015.
  4. "Van Zile, Edward Sims, 1863-1931. Language(s): English Published: New York, Putnam, 1923. Subjects: Motion pictures, Physical Description: 229 p." Hathi Trust Digital Library. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
  5. Edward Sims Van Zile (1900). With sword and crucifix:. Harper & Bros.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Edward Sims Van Zile (1897). Kings in Adversity. F. Tennyson Neely.
  7. Albert E. McKinley, Collected Materials for the Study of the War (Philadelphia, McKinley Publishing Company, 1918), p. 126 Questia: trusted online research

Other websitesEdit