MLB holds first night game

MLB holds first night game

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The Cincinnati Reds beat the Philadelphia Phillies 2-1 on May 24, 1935 in Major League Baseball’s first-ever night game, played courtesy of recently installed lights at Crosley Field in Cincinnati.

The first-ever night game in professional baseball took place May 2, 1930, when a Des Moines, Iowa, team hosted Wichita for a Western League game. The game drew 12,000 people at a time when Des Moines was averaging just 600 fans per game. Evening games soon became popular in the minors: As minor league ball clubs were routinely folding in the midst of the Great Depression, adaptable owners found the innovation a key to staying in business. The major leagues, though, took five years to catch up to their small-town counterparts.

The first big league night game on this day in 1935 drew 25,000 fans, who stood by as President Roosevelt symbolically switched on the lights from Washington, D.C. To capitalize on their new evening fan base, the Reds played a night game that year against every National League team–eight games in total–and despite their lousy record of 68-85, paid attendance rose 117 percent.

Though baseball owners had a well-deserved reputation for being old-fashioned, most teams soon followed suit, as they knew night games would benefit their bottom line. Teams upgraded their facilities to include lights throughout the 1930s and 40s, and before long, most of the league had night games on the schedule. Wrigley Field, on Chicago’s North Side–the second oldest major league park after Boston’s Fenway–was the last of the parks to begin hosting night games. Wrigley’s tradition of hosting only day games held for 74 seasons until August 8, 1988, when the Cubs hosted the Philadelphia Phillies. That game was rained out in the third inning, so Wrigley’s first night game is officially recorded as a 6-4 win over the New York Mets on August 9, 1988.

Night game

A night game is a game which is played with the use of artificial lights. On June 5, 1883, a night game between amateur teams from Quincy, IL and Fort Wayne, IN took place in Fort Wayne using 17 lights, most suspended on masts. Ώ] On July 7, 1909, the Grand Rapids Wolverines of the Central League beat the Zanesville Infants 11 to 10 at home in what was thought to be the first night game in organized baseball ΐ] . The game was an exhibition game and did not count in league standings, so it was not considered an organized baseball game. This does not seem to have led to any follow-up, and the regular playing of baseball under the lights did not develop until two decades later.

The first night game in Organized baseball, played in Independence, KS on April 28, 1930, between the Muskogee Chiefs and Independence Producers of the Western Association. That game was played under permanent lights. Four days later, on May 2nd, another game was played in Des Moines, IA, also under permanent lights. Portable lights were also used by Negro League teams during that decade. In spite of all these pioneering efforts, the technology did not immediately reach the major leagues.

The first major league night game was not played until May 24, 1935, when the Cincinnati Reds defeated the visiting Philadelphia Phillies, 2-1. It was a big deal at the time, as President Franklin D. Roosevelt turned on the switch from the White House in Washington, DC, to fire up the lights at Crosley Field in Cincinnati, OH.

It took a while for the controversial practice of playing at night to take hold outside Cincinnati. The second city to host a game under the lights was Brooklyn, NY, where the first night game was played at Ebbets Field on June 15, 1938 that night, Johnny Vander Meer pitched the second of two consecutive no-hitters as the visiting Reds defeated the Brooklyn Dodgers, 6-0. One year later, on May 16, 1939, the first American League game to be played at night took place, with the Philadelphia Athletics losing to the visiting Cleveland Indians, 8-3.

Night games were originally seen as a novelty, but their practice expanded considerably during World War II. While one may think there may have been a concern about using electricity and enforcing curfews at that time, there was an even bigger concern about allowing workers in production industries access to some entertainment outside working hours, and weekly night games were seen as an option. Thus, they had become an accepted part of the baseball culture by the time the war ended. In the 1950s, a number of teams designed special satin uniforms to use in night games, as the reflected light gave them a particular shine. That practice was soon discontinued.

Most teams quickly adopted night games and installed permanent lighting facilities in their home ballparks (the first games had been played with temporary lighting installations). The last American League team to host a night game were the Detroit Tigers, who waited until 1948­, but the one holdout in the National League was much longer. The Chicago Cubs at first did not want to play under lights, and later were prevented from doing so because of opposition from neighborhood residents around Wrigley Field. In the 1960s, the Cubs expected to move to new modern digs in the short term and did not press the issue, but when plans to build a new joint facility to be shared with the Chicago White Sox were definitely abandoned later that decade, the issue became more pressing. Municipal politics got involved and the fight became very bitter by the early 1980s. When the Cubs lost home field advantage in the 1984 National League Championship Series because they could not host night games in accordance with Major League Baseball's contract with television broadcasters, the issue became unavoidable. A deal was reached which allowed the first night game to be played at Wrigley on August 8, 1988 ironically, it was rained out after four innings. The first official game thus had to wait until the following evening, and the number of night games played annually by the Cubs remains limited by a municipal ordinance.

Other long-held taboos included playing night games on Sunday, something which was only allowed when the Houston Colt .45s joined the National League in 1962, a concession to the stifling mid-summer heat of Texas, and night games in the World Series. Today, there is at least one nationally-televised night game played every Sunday during the regular season. The first night game in the World Series was Game 4 of the 1971 World Series today all World Series games are played as night games - the last day game was Game 6 of the 1987 World Series, which ironically was played indoors and thus under lights as well.

Prior to the introduction of lights, nightfall acted as a natural limit to the length of baseball games, as games that went on too long would be called due to darkness, with rules similar to those applying to rainouts. Nowadays, if a game must be interrupted because of darkness - for example, because of a power problem - it is only suspended and will be completed at a later date. This rule also governed games played at Wrigley Field in its last decades as the only major league ballpark without lights.

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Multiple cities claim to have hosted the first night game in baseball history

(Iowa Cubs)

Here is what we know for sure - on May 2, 1930 Des Moines hosted baseball's first night game played under permanent lights. Articles recapping the event repeat the phrase "under permanent lights."

But where was the first game using temporary lights? The quest for that answer left us in the dark.

Hull, Mass. September 2, 1880: Northern Electric Light Company set up wooden light towers near Nantasket Bay and two teams representing Boston department stores played to a 16-16 tie. The next day's Boston Post said the error-filled contest unfolded "with scarcely the precision as by daylight."

Fort Wayne, Ind. June 2, 1883: The Northwestern League's Quincy Quincys played a local college in the first night game involving a professional team.

Wilmington, Del. July 4, 1896: Future Hall of Famer Honus Wagner and the Class A Paterson Silk Weavers struggled through a dimly lit night game in Wilmington. "The ball became lost so many times and so many runs were made that they were not counted," wrote the Wilmington Morning News.

The Weirs Times News said it was the first night "regularly scheduled league game."

Grand Rapids, Mich. July 7, 1909: Class B Central League squads Zanesville and Grand Rapids met at Ramona Park for what the book "Green Cathedrals" called "the first minor league night game." Nervous fielders convinced the official scorer to rule all dropped fly balls as hits.

Lynn, Mass. June 24, 1927: General Electric arranged flood lamps for Class B Lynn's night game vs. Salem. To this day, General Electric claims it was "the first night baseball game ever played." It wasn't even the first night game played in Massachusetts.

General Electric's magazine also claims "a GE engineer invented night baseball" in 1927.

Independence, Kan. April 28, 1930: The Class C Independence Producers took on the Muskogee Chiefs in what an official historical marker calls "the first night game in organized baseball." It isn't true.

Tim Hagerty is the broadcaster for the Triple-A El Paso Chihuahuas, and is on Twitter at @MinorsTeamNames. He is also the author of "Root for the Home Team: Minor League Baseball's Most Off-the-Wall Team Names."


A baseball game was played under electric lighting in 1880, the year after Thomas Edison invented the light bulb. It was an experimental game between two department store teams, and it would take another fifty years before organized baseball would sanction night baseball. There were a couple of exhibition night baseball games in the early 1900s between organized baseball teams. One of them was in 1909, and the other was in 1927, but the games did not count in league standings. Even though the games were between professional teams, they were unofficial experiments and did not count as the "nocturnal first". In 1929, the president of the Des Moines, Iowa baseball club announced to the National Association convention he was going to play night baseball in 1930. However, the first official minor league night game actually took place in Independence, Kansas on April 28, 1930. [1]

An article in the April 1931 edition of Baseball Magazine stated that Independence was the first team in America to play a league night baseball game. After the game in Independence, night baseball "spread like wildfire" across the minor leagues. [2] In addition to that, in 1935, The Sporting News pointed out that Des Moines, Iowa was not the first to install permanent lights, but it was in fact Independence that did so. By the end of the 1934 season there were sixty-five minor league teams with permanent lights installed on their fields. [3] The light towers installed in Independence in 1930 were removed and scrapped in June 1990. [4] Mickey Mantle, an Independence Yankee in 1949, played under the historic lights.

Lighting technology had significantly improved since the 1927 night game exhibition. After fifty years of experiments, a new era in professional baseball was about to start. The Independence Producers of Independence, Kansas were a Class C minor league baseball team that played in a stadium known now as Shulthis Stadium. They purchased lights from the Giant Manufacturing Company and installed permanent lights on their field. When Independence played the night game on April 28, 1930, it made Independence the birthplace of professional night baseball. By the end of the 1930 season there were thirty-eight minor league teams with lights installed on their fields. [5]

Independence played the first night game in the history of Organized Baseball on April 28, 1930. The term Organized Baseball refers to Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball games. Organized Baseball games must follow specific rules in order to be Organized Baseball games. The Commissioner of Baseball has authority over Organized Baseball. [6] Independence lost the league game to the Muskogee Chiefs by a score of 13-3. Independence had previously played an exhibition game against the House of David, a professional baseball team, but the game did not qualify as an Organized Baseball game. Independence did however defeat the House of David with a score of 9-1. [7]

Since Independence had played a night baseball game before any Major League teams did so, the first night game in the history of Organized Baseball took place in Independence, Kansas. Numerous references, photos, and media clippings discussing the first night Organized Baseball game are available can be found on websites. [8] [9] [10]

After the 1930 game in Independence, night baseball did spread to other countries. The first night game baseball game in Canada took place in Vancouver, Canada in 1931. [11] In 1933 Japan played their first night baseball game, and Cuba did so in 1937. [12] [13]

The first big-league team to play games at night was the 1930 Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro leagues, who often played against the House of David baseball team, who carried portable lights mounted on trucks along with their team bus. [14] [15] The Monarchs first night baseball game was on April 28, 1930. It was an exhibition game in Enid, Oklahoma against Phillips University. [16] The first night game in Major League Baseball history occurred on May 24, 1935 when the Cincinnati Reds beat the Philadelphia Phillies 2–1 at Crosley Field. [17] The original plan was that the Reds would play seven night games each season, one against each visiting club. [18] Night baseball quickly found acceptance in other Major League cities and eventually became the norm the term "day game" was subsequently coined to designate the increasingly rarer afternoon contests.

The last non-expansion/non-relocated team to play all their home games in the daytime were the Chicago Cubs they played their first official night game in Wrigley Field on August 9, 1988 and beat the New York Mets 6–4, one night after their initial attempt at night baseball (against the Philadelphia Phillies) was rained out before it became official. [19] The Cubs still play the fewest home night games of any major league club (35 per season, as of 2014).

The first night All-Star Game was held at Philadelphia's Shibe Park in 1943, while the first World Series night game was Game 4 of the 1971 Series at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh. All All-Star Games since 1969, and all World Series games since Game 6 of the 1987 Series, have been played at night.

The use of floodlights in cricket matches has helped to bring much investment into the game both at a national and an international level since it began in 1977. Today floodlit (day/night) cricket is played in most of the test playing nations although some nations have only started hosting day/night matches in the last 10 to 12 years. Many important tournaments like Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20 have become success due to night games.

Cricket was first played under floodlights on Monday, August 11, 1952 [20] in England which was watched by several million people on their television sets. Since then every test playing country has installed floodlights in their stadiums. Traditional Cricket floodlights have a long pole on which lights are fixed. This is done because many times the ball travels too high when a batsman hits it and high lights are needed to keep the ball in sight. But many cricket stadiums have different types of floodlights like ANZ Stadium in Australia, stadiums in New Zealand etc. The DSC Cricket Stadium in Dubai recently installed Ring of Fire [21] system of floodlights which is latest and smartest system of floodlight in the world.

The term has also been adopted by other outdoor stadium sports such as American football and Canadian football. The first night football game was played in Mansfield, Pennsylvania on September 28, 1892 between Mansfield State Normal and Wyoming Seminary. It ended bitterly at halftime in a 0–0 tie. [22] In 1893 at the Chicago's World Fair, the Chicago A. A. played a night football game against West Point. Chicago won the 40-minute game 14–0. [23] On November 21, 1902, the Philadelphia Athletics of the first National Football League defeated the Kanaweola Athletic Club, 39–0, at Maple Avenue Driving Park in the first professional football night game. [24] The first night football game west of the Mississippi River was played in Wichita, Kansas in 1905 between Cooper College (now Sterling College of Sterling, Kansas) and Fairmount College (now Wichita State University). [25]

The first NFL game played at night was in 1929 when the Chicago Cardinals played the Providence Steam Roller. [26]

The Pecan Park Eagle

The first night game in baseball history was written down today as a great success.

But there still remained the business of checking up on how many of the 20,242 who turned out at Cincinnati last night to see the $50,000 floodlighting system turned on by President Roosevelt in Washington, (a) great preliminary display of fireworks, a considerable gathering of notables, and, incidentally, a 2 to 1 victory for the Reds over the Phillies, would pay to come back some other night.

The whole question of baseball after dark in the big leagues seems to hinge on that matter. The attendance at that “experimental” game appeared to justify the cash outlay and to put to rest any fears that players might be injured because of the strange playing conditions.

The Reds got only four blows off Joe Bowman and Jim Bivin, who pitched the eighth inning, but they made them count more than Philadelphia’s six off Paul Derringer.

A Hugh S. Fullerton, Jr. article excerpt, Associated Press, Moberly (MO) Monitor Index, May 25, 1935, Page 6

Just an opinion here. What a difference eighty years makes – and it certainly didn’t take the game that long to get where it is now. Major League Baseball in 2016, including all of its biggest shows, has been owned by the night for decades. The real story that needs to be written today is how night baseball changed the culture of players and writers who covered the game. Between the coming of night baseball, jet plane travel, and television exposure, the whole business of having fairly anonymous time for teammate and writer bonding – and night time pleasure-seeking that worked in the Babe Ruth era – was about to be altered forever. Some players and writers will continue to have problems with drugs, alcohol, and monogamy til the end of time, but they will never again have the leisure time at night, the anonymity they once enjoyed prior to television, or the bonding opportunities they once had on long train rides together. The days for cranking up the impulse wheel of the group mind above the clickety-clack of the rails are a long time gone.

Throw in millionaire salaries today as another big variable curbing behavioral restraint for many, but certainly not all players in the 21st century – and the fact that today’s media is not the players’ benefits buddy looms big too. Most of today’s media will publish lurid stories on player miscreant behavior. – and most players who misbehave in this era are still smart enough to be more secretive about their runs down the road to ruin. – TPPE

Bill McCurdy

A History Of Night Games At Wrigley Field, And Why Cubs Want More Of Them

WRIGLEYVILLE &mdash It wasn't so long ago that there were no night games at Wrigley Field.

Patrick Lenihan remembers those days fondly.

"We were prepared to live with Wrigley Field, but when I moved here, Wrigley Field was very different," he said. "It was this neighborhood ballpark with a character to it. But the Cubs said, 'Well, we don't like that character.'"

Here in Lakeview long before the lights were, Lenihan wasn't shocked when the Chicago Cubs last week asked for permission to host more night games at Wrigley Field, asking for an increase of 11 that would bring the club in line with the average Major League Baseball team.

"We knew that the Cubs would continue to up the ante," Lenihan said. "This is an issue of responsibility."

More money makes the club more competitive for future World Series titles, said Cubs spokesman Julian Green. And the more money spent at Wrigley Field, the more tax revenue for the city and, theoretically, the neighborhood &mdash a sum which the Cubs put at $81 million per year.

But to neighbors like Lenihan, it means more nighttime traffic, frequent parking violations, rowdy revelers in their yards and trash littering the place they call home.

It's been an arduous journey to the current state of night games and concerts at Wrigley Field, and some of the finer points of the tale have been buried amid rapid change at the historic ballpark.

Here's a look at how it all began:

A night game 70 years in the making

Back in the days of Ron Santo and Ernie Banks, no lights existed at Wrigley Field, one of just a few U.S. stadiums located smack dab in the middle of a largely residential neighborhood. At best, the team could play a handful of games that started late Friday afternoon and wrapped before sunset.

Longtime owner P.K. Wrigley tried to install lights in the 1940s, but his plans were foiled when the U.S. entered World War II. After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Wrigley donated the steel meant for the lights to the war effort.

Eventually, Wrigley settled into firm opposition to night games, refusing to disturb neighbors and happily honoring the status quo over the course of decades. And although one team did get to use portable lights at Wrigley back in 1943, it wasn't the Cubs.

Soon after the Tribune Co. bought the Cubs from the Wrigleys in 1981, the idea of night games was revived. In response, Gov. James Thompson signed legislation effectively banning night games at Wrigley Field in 1982, with the City Council banning the use of lights &mdash even before 8 p.m. &mdash one year later.

The Cubs sued Thompson and the city in 1984 but failed to sway the court.

In his ruling, Circuit Judge Richard Curry said night baseball would harm the neighborhood's "peace and tranquility" in exchange for television royalties and accused the Tribune Co. of being greedy and behaving in a way that was "repugnant to common decency."

"The game of baseball may be everybody's business, but the business of baseball is greed," Curry wrote, according to a Tribune report. "On the basis of an alleged necessity to play championship games at night, they ask for a reversal of the status quo which has existed at this ballpark for 70 years. They ask 55,000 neighbors to forgo a community free of nighttime distractions."

Neighbors fought efforts to revive the plans as the Citizens United for Baseball in Sunshine (C.U.B.S.), including with now-iconic "No Lights at Wrigley Field" memorabilia that regularly goes up for auction and has a spot in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

"We wanted to know if the city was prepared to deal with the different element [night games] would bring in than the people who go to day games," said Lenihan, the group's vice president. The Lakeview residents felt the evening games would herald an influx of "more of the partiers and the people who want to hang out at bars," he said.

Lenihan, who has lived four blocks from the ballpark near Grace Street and Wayne Avenue since 1980, said they feared the laid-back neighborhood would turn into an entertainment district, but with a seasonal aspect that would leave neighbors adrift and streets abandoned in the offseason.

A sign from the Citizens United for Baseball in Sunshine hangs in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. [Flickr/Ewen Roberts]

"It seems good for the restaurant &mdash it allows them to jack up their prices for when Cubs fans eat there," Lenihan said. "But come September or October, they'll realize, 'Why are we staying open?' and cut their hours. They no longer see the residents of the neighborhood as their [main] customers."

The neighborhood group even spawned some local celebrities. U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Chicago) launched his political career after helping to form C.U.B.S., and spins one heck of a yarn about the "magical" aspect of seeing his first day game in 1969.

At first, their efforts were successful, and Cubs officials eventually said the issue was "dead."

But when the team suggested moving out of Wrigley Field to build anew in the suburbs, the Council budged, with the first night game played on Aug. 8, 1988. Eighteen night games were allowed each year, and lights were installed to illuminate the field on evenings.

Why neighbors don't light up over night games

Wrigley Field is closer to residential blocks than ballparks like Guaranteed Rate Field, which is surrounded mostly by parking lots, Armour Square Park and the Dan Ryan Expy., or other ballparks like Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati or Soldier Field Downtown, which both are bordered by bodies of water on the city's edge.

On the left, homes are located much closer to Wrigley Field than those in Bridgeport near Guaranteed Rate Field, which is surrounded by parking lots and the Dan Ryan Expy. [Google Maps]

While the quaint location is great for aesthetics, it also means the club regularly does battle with the city to relax restrictions designed to keep neighbors happy.

"Many of us recognized that lights were inevitable in the ballpark," said Lenihan, 68. "The issue then was what would the city and Cubs organization be prepared to do to address the negative impact on the neighborhood."

Starting in 2002, the Council slowly loosened its restrictions, giving the Cubs more night games in exchange for easing traffic congestion, picking up litter and providing money for neighborhood improvements.

The Cubs pledged to pay $3.75 million over 10 years for projects such as street lighting, and recently gave $1 million for surveillance cameras. This season, the Cubs began paying for two off-duty officers to patrol the neighborhood during baseball season. The team spends $750,000 each year on traffic aides posted in the neighborhood on event days.

But the trade-off was "superficial" and "absolutely not sufficient," especially as more night games were permitted, Lenihan said.

"Rather than getting additional police protection, we got what I call 'traffic scarecrows,'" he said. "They do nothing they congregate with each other, or you see them on their cellphones."

Traffic congestion is now an issue for one in three nights during Cubs season (not counting the playoffs) and traffic pickup beyond the streets immediately surrounding Wrigley Field leaves much to be desired, Lenihan said.

Other neighbors have voiced similar concerns each year at the preseason Cubs community meeting, asking for better training for traffic aides and complaining about Wrigleyville's rampant public urination problem, but the club's neighborhood email surveys &mdash which are sent only to those in the adjoining ZIP codes &mdash return with mostly positive feedback.

In the three decades since the night game ban was lifted, the number of them at Wrigley Field has steadily increased, with additional allowances for stadium concerts that the Cubs have taken full advantage of. As of 2017, they're permitted 47 night events, including eight flex nights if the MLB requests a schedule change for TV broadcast.

Simply put, night games sell more tickets, Green said. A day game against the White Sox last week, for example, would have "likely sold out at night," he said.

The most recent night game ordinance allowed for four concerts, but any more are subtracted from the limit of 35 regularly scheduled night games. With 10 concerts this year at the ballpark, that means six fewer night games. Concerts, though, have the added benefit of the team not splitting revenue with the league &mdash a financial factor that contributed to the recent spike in performances at Wrigley.

The 35-game limit does not include all-star games or games played in the postseason or as tie-breakers. Games rescheduled as night games for unexpected reasons like inclement weather or serious injuries, however, do count toward the 35 game total.

The team faces a fine $300 to $5,000 for each day in violation, the ordinance states. Night games played beyond the limit are also subtracted from the following year's allotment.

Lights at Wrigley Field were added in 1988 and are pictured here during the 2016 World Series. [Wikimedia Commons/Arturo Pardavila III]

The Cubs are the only major league team to still play most of their 81 home games during the day &mdash the average number of night games is 54 &mdash and the team is crying foul.

&ldquoWe&rsquore one of the few teams that not only has to beat everyone in our division, we also have to beat the city that we play in to try and win games. It&rsquos a very odd situation for us," Crane Kenney, president of baseball operations, said in a radio interview with The Score earlier this week.

"The real answer is at some point, we'd love to not be handicapped, as no other team in baseball is by the number of night games you play," he continued. "You know, we just keep working on it."

Fielding the request are Mayor Rahm Emanuel and 44th Ward Ald. Tom Tunney, whose comments on the Cubs' latest request for more night games indicate a city unwilling to negotiate &mdash for now at least.

"The ordinance governing evening activities inside Wrigley Field was negotiated by the Cubs, the community, myself and the mayor's office and has another seven years before it expires," Tunney said. "The Cubs have chosen to schedule concerts instead of night games."

Even as Cubs and city officials chummed it up over the grand opening of the long-awaited plaza outside Wrigley Field, there remained some signs of continued dissatisfaction over limits on its use.

"The fact is, it's our property," Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts said at the time. "The right answer is to let us continue to do what we've already discussed."

Crane Kenney, Tom Ricketts, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Laura Ricketts cut the ribbon during opening ceremonies for the Park at Wrigley in April. [DNAinfo/Ariel Cheung]

A win-win scenario?

Lenihan said he sees Tunney's opposition to an increase as "genuine," but worries that Emanuel could about-face when he feels the timing is right.

After all, the Cubs used to play 18 night games per season &mdash a fraction of what the night game schedule has evolved into.

"I think it's inevitable the Cubs are going to get the extra night games," Lenihan said. "They might even get more concerts."

But in exchange, Lenihan said he hopes to see more consideration for the neighbors, some of whom, like him, moved to Lakeview decades ago with no idea a 70-year-old rule of thumb was about to change.

A new fee on ticket prices could be used for a fund specifically for Lakeview that pays for more traffic control, more police officers and "real" neighborhood cleanup, Lenihan suggested.

Last year's seven concerts generated $1.89 million in amusement taxes for the city, according to a Cubs annual report, which is still just a fraction of the total economic benefit the team creates for the city, team officials have said.

But the Cubs' victorious 2016 postseason also ran up a big tab for the city: $18.8 million in police and emergency management overtime and cleanup. And the amusement taxes generated aren't neighborhood-specific, but go to the city as a whole, Lenihan said.

Meanwhile, he plans to continue weathering what can sometimes feel like a storm.

"To me, it's not a matter of hand-wringing. I think the change is going to come, and I don't fight it," Lenihan said. "But it's sad that people talk about Chicago being a city of neighborhoods, but it's only a city of neighborhoods until something like this happens."

How Night Games Changed Baseball History

J. L. &ldquoWilkie&rdquo Wilkinson, a baseball team owner, needed to put more bodies in seats. It was 1930, the year after the stock market had crashed, and the Depression was taking its toll. Not even baseball was safe: One team had folded a whole league disbanded. Wilkinson owned the Kansas City Monarchs, a winning team, but their daytime games made it impossible for working fans to attend. Additionally, the Monarchs were members of the Negro National League and didn&rsquot have their own stadium. Under the shadow of Jim Crow, where few stores and hotels would cater to them, playing baseball required lots of travel in unwelcoming conditions. And, while mostly black crowds attended the Monarchs&rsquo games, the efforts to attract new white fans were fruitless.

Wilkinson yearned for a financial home run and tried everything to keep the team going. In the 1920s, he lowered the price of seats from $1.10 to $.75 he halved the price of tickets for women on Ladies Night. Now more desperate, Wilkinson, who was white, took a bigger gamble. He mortgaged everything he owned to pursue a radical idea: playing baseball at night, when fans weren&rsquot at work. If he could just figure out how to help fans see the game, he figured, they would come. It wasn&rsquot a totally new idea&mdashnight baseball had been batted about by professional and amateur teams for years and a team from Independence, Kans., lays claim to hosting the first-ever such home game exactly 85 years ago, on April 28, 1930&mdashbut nobody had really made it work as a long-term solution.

The technology for nighttime baseball had significantly improved in the years since the first attempts had been made. Help came in the form of a mild-mannered Massachusetts-born General Electric physicist, William David Coolidge, who made floodlights possible. While Thomas Edison is credited with inventing the light bulb, his were short lived. The wire threads, or filaments, that they used to generate light burned out quickly or broke. Coolidge worked for years to make filaments with longer-lasting lives. The element tungsten, a silvery metal with the highest melting point on the periodic table, was an excellent candidate for a material, except that it had one major flaw. Tungsten snapped like chalk when drawn into a wire thread. When Coolidge &ldquobaked&rdquo tungsten, he eventually discovered, it became pliable. And, with Wilkinson&rsquos pioneering idea, it was tungsten wire set in a bulb that would eventually beam light onto the baseball diamond.

Wilkinson&rsquos great innovation was to commission the Giant Manufacturing Company of Iowa to make a portable lighting system. Six floodlights on telescoping poles nearly 50 ft. tall were mounted on flatbed trucks located throughout the field. The lights could go on the road with the Monarchs, an advantage not available to some of the other teams that introduced night games that same season. The electric lights were a sight to behold, since fewer than 10% of farms in America had electricity in the early 1930s. The novelty of the portable lights at baseball games, Wilkinson hoped, would act as the flame to the proverbial moth.

And it worked. With those lights the fans also saw the dawn of a new era&mdashthe beginning of nighttime baseball games, a full five years before Major League Baseball would follow their lead. Attendance that first Monarchs season grew from 5,000 to 12,000 to a peak of 15,000 people. Thanks to their portability, Wilkinson&rsquos lights acted as beacons for fans of all races&mdashand helped the Monarchs survive the Depression, which would have echoes throughout the history of baseball: Years later, Jackie Robinson would get his start with the Kansas City Monarchs, before moving on to the Brooklyn Dodgers, playing his first game April 15, 1947, and opening up baseball even more.

Ainissa Ramirez is a scientist and author (Newton&rsquos Football, Save Our Science). She co-hosts a 2-minute science podcast called Science Underground.

Yankees Magazine: When Yankee Stadium Was Lit

Ed. Note: During the current stoppage in baseball, Yankees Magazine is periodically putting some of its archival material online for the first time. This story first appeared in the May 2012 edition. Get more articles like this delivered to your doorstep by purchasing a subscription to Yankees Magazine at

It was nearly 9 p.m., and only one batter into the game, Clarence “Cuddles” Marshall was already in trouble.

Nearly 50,000 fans -- some of whom had come to Yankee Stadium the night before only to be told the game was rained out -- were there to witness the first game under artificial lights in The House That Ruth Built. The date was May 28, 1946, and an unseasonably frigid night left most of them shivering.

One month after his 21st birthday, Marshall was making the first start of his big league career. His catcher, Bill Dickey, arguably the greatest backstop baseball had ever seen, walked toward the mound after Marshall walked Senators leadoff hitter Sherry Robertson on four pitches.

Dickey also happened to be making his home debut as manager after taking over for Joe McCarthy the previous weekend in Boston -- the first skipper in the Yankees dugout other than McCarthy in 16 years.

Marshall blew on his hands to try to keep them from completely freezing as the legendary Dickey approached him.

“You scared, kid?” Dickey said.

Dickey patted the young right-hander on the rear end and retreated to home plate.

It’s hard to imagine today -- when more than half of the Yankees’ home games begin after 7 p.m. -- but for the first 23 years of Yankee Stadium’s existence, not a single inning was played under lights.

The tradition-minded Yankees, particularly conservative team president Ed Barrow, were in no rush to join the nocturnal ranks. After their first night game, a 3-2 loss on June 26, 1939, at Philadelphia’s Shibe Park to an Athletics team that had been 0-8 against the Yanks that year, Lefty Gomez remarked, “There must be a catch to this.”

Though the consensus was “hardly favorable,” feelings started to warm after the Yankees’ second night game, a 14-5 rout of the White Sox at Comiskey Park on Aug. 22, 1939, in which the Bombers clubbed five homers.

That same day, however, Lou Gehrig gave a radio interview to KROC-AM in Rochester, Minnesota, where he was receiving treatment at the Mayo Clinic, blasting the innovation as nothing more than a spectacle.

“Well, night baseball is strictly a show and is strictly advantageous to the owners’ pocketbook,” Gehrig said. “But as far as being a true exhibition of baseball, well, I don’t think I can say it is, and it’s very difficult on the ballplayers themselves. … It’s not really baseball. Real baseball should be played in the daytime, in the sunshine.”

Afternoon games continued to fill the Yanks’ home schedule through the war years, but when Dan Topping, Del Webb and Larry MacPhail purchased the team from the Ruppert estate in February 1945, changes would soon come in a hurry.

Cuddles Marshall grew up in the very northwest corner of the continental United States in Bellingham, Washington, 90 miles north of Seattle. Gehrig, his boyhood idol, was nearing his 2,000th consecutive game played when Marshall told his mother, “You know, Mom? One day, I’m going to play for the New York Yankees.”

Now here he was, on the mound at Yankee Stadium, Joe DiMaggio playing behind him in center field, Charlie Keller in left and Tommy Henrich in right. Marshall had been preparing for this moment all his life. In fact, it was his experience (albeit brief) with the Pacific Coast League’s Seattle Rainiers -- whose stadium had lights -- that led Dickey to choose Marshall as his starter.

Marshall thought back to his big league debut as a reliever at Fenway Park five weeks earlier, when he got Ted Williams to hit into a double play with the bases loaded.

Marshall got the second batter, Buddy Lewis, to hit a ground ball to short. Phil Rizzuto scooped it up and flipped it to Joe Gordon for the force at second.

The rainout on Monday, May 27, dampened the spirits of one man more than anyone else. “MacPhail, who always looks forward to one of his new ventures with all the eagerness of a youngster who can’t wait for tomorrow to try out his new roller skates, was easily the most disappointed man in town,” wrote The New York Times' John Drebinger.

The fiery redhead with the golden tongue was a whirlwind of activity. Since acquiring a share of the Yankees, MacPhail had:

  • sent shockwaves throughout the league by selling ace pitcher Hank Borowy to the Cubs in the middle of the 1945 season
  • approved a $600,000 renovation of Yankee Stadium that included a new triple-tone coat of paint, created the first Stadium Club for season-ticket holders and moved the home dugout from the third-base side to the first-base side of the field
  • sent the Yankees to Panama for three and a half weeks of Spring Training in 1946
  • seen to it that all 154 regular-season games would be broadcast for the first time in team history, bringing in Mel Allen and Russ Hodges to call the games on WINS Radio and
  • introduced the Yankee Mainliner, making New York the first team to fly to its road destinations.

No innovation brought more excitement for MacPhail, however, than the installation of lights atop the Stadium roof.

To this day, MacPhail is credited as being a pioneer of night baseball. It was he who brought lights to the Majors, first illuminating Cincinnati’s Crosley Field as vice president and general manager of the Reds in 1935. Upon moving to the Dodgers, he lit up Ebbets Field on June 15, 1938 -- the game in which Reds pitcher Johnny Vander Meer tossed his second straight no-hitter.

On Jan. 15, 1946, MacPhail beamed with pride as he led a contingent of reporters on a tour of the construction at Yankee Stadium. A.E. Carlson, the Bronx firm that had done the grandstand expansion in 1937, was hired to do the roofing work. Six banks of lights containing 1,409 floodlights -- with 1,500 watts in each lamp -- would ring the Stadium. The result was said to be the equivalent of playing under 5,000 full moons and would provide “sufficient light to illuminate a four-lane highway from New York to Washington,” Drebinger wrote. The installation also called for 30,000 feet of steel electrical conduits and 15 miles of wiring according to a July 1946 article in American Roofer.

MacPhail smiled as he prepared to finally bring night baseball to the most famous stadium in sports, recalling what baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis had told him when he first proposed the idea in 1934.

“Young man,” Landis had said, “not in my lifetime or yours will you ever see a baseball game played at night in the Majors.”

Dickey had wanted to manage, but not like this.

McCarthy, perturbed by the Borowy sale and ailed by a gall bladder condition, had nearly walked away in 1945. A “perfectionist” regarded by many as the greatest manager in baseball history, McCarthy expected his players to do things the right way -- the Yankees way. MacPhail, with his torrent of changes and ebullient persona, was not McCarthy’s type of guy.

McCarthy tried to make it work, but the relationship between the manager and the owner continued to sour in 1946. Citing a recurrence of his gall bladder condition, McCarthy retreated to his farm in Tonawanda, New York, near Buffalo, in the middle of a 13-game May road trip.

After eight American League pennants and seven world championships, including a sterling 29-9 record in World Series games, McCarthy was done in New York. Even a personal visit from Yankees executive George Weiss to try and talk him out of it had no effect. “My doctor advises that my health would be seriously jeopardized if I continued,” McCarthy wrote in a telegram to MacPhail. (He returned to managing in 1948 with the Red Sox.)

“MacPhail’s flamboyant doings, his airline rides, his beauty parades on the ball field and night baseball were anathema to McCarthy whose idea of baseball was playing it in the afternoon without benefit of sideshows or interference from the club president,” wrote The Washington Post's Shirley Povich. “McCarthy might have parted company with the Yankees last season, except for the fact that MacPhail was shrewd enough to fear that it wouldn’t look nice, and that he would be under the suspicion of running out the most popular manager in the history of Yankee Stadium fans. That would not have been a smart way for MacPhail to break in as president of the Yanks.”

On May 24, just before a three-game weekend series in Boston, MacPhail named Dickey manager. After going 1-2 at Fenway, Dickey’s charges came home for the first night game trailing the Red Sox by six games.

Baseball broadcasting firsts

The first-ever televised baseball game was on May 17, 1939, between Princeton and Columbia Princeton beat Columbia 2–1 at Columbia's Baker Field. The contest was aired on NBC station W2XBS, an experimental station in New York City which would ultimately become WNBC. The game was announced by Bill Stern. Dawson L. Farber, Jr. pitched for Princeton. [1]

On August 26 of the same year, the first ever Major League Baseball game was televised (once again on W2XBS). With Red Barber announcing, the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Cincinnati Reds played a doubleheader at Ebbets Field. The Reds won the first, 5–2 while the Dodgers won the second, 6–1. Barber called the game without the benefit of a monitor and with only two cameras capturing the game. One camera was placed behind home plate, in the second tier of seating, while another was positioned near the visitors' dugout, on the third-base side. [2]

By 1947, television sets (most with five and seven-inch screens) were selling almost as fast as they could be produced in cities which had television stations. Because of this, Major League teams began televising games and attracted a whole new audience into ballparks in the process. This was because people who had only casually followed baseball began going to the games in person and enjoying themselves. As a result, the following year, Major League attendance reached a record high of 21 million.

1947 saw the first televised World Series. [3] [4] The games were shown in the New York City area by NBC over WNBT Channel 4 (now WNBC) and reportedly on the rudimentary NBC Television Network, consisting in 1947 of New York, Schenectady, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. The broadcast was sponsored by Gillette and Ford. Even though there were only about 100,000 television sets in the entire country at that time, the 1947 World Series brought in an estimated 3.9 million viewers -- many watching in bars and other public places -- becoming television's first mass audience.

On April 16, 1948, Chicago's WGN-TV (run by Jake Israel) broadcast its first big-league game, with Jack Brickhouse calling the White Sox' 4-1 defeat of the Cubs in an exhibition game at Wrigley Field. WGN televised each Cubs and White Sox home game live. According to Brickhouse,

It worked because the Cubs and White Sox weren't home at the same time. You aired the Sox at Comiskey, or Cubs at Wrigley Field. Daytime scheduling gave the Cubs a decided edge, as Wrigley didn't have lights, so kids came home from school, had a sandwich, and turned the TV on.

On July 11, 1950, the All-Star Game out of Chicago's Comiskey Park was televised for the first time. On November 8, 1950, Commissioner Happy Chandler and player reps agreed on the split of the TV-radio rights from the World Series.

On August 11, 1951, WCBS-TV in New York City televised the first baseball game (in which the Boston Braves beat the Brooklyn Dodgers by the score of 8-1) in color. On October 1 of that year, NBC aired the first coast-to-coast baseball telecast as the Brooklyn Dodgers were beaten by the New York Giants in the first game of a playoff series by the score of 3-1 featuring Bobby Thomson's two-run home run. Thomson's famous now-legendary home run) would occur in the third game of the best of 3 series.

The 1955 World Series was the first televised in color (on NBC).

In 1958, KTTV in Los Angeles, California aired the first regular-season baseball game ever played on the West Coast, a Los Angeles Dodgers-San Francisco Giants game from Seals Stadium in San Francisco, California, with Vin Scully announcing. In its first year airing Major League Baseball, KTTV aired only the Dodgers' road games.

What may be the first sports instant replay using videotape occurred on July 17, 1959, during a broadcast of a New York Yankees game by New York TV station WPIX. It came after a hit by Jim McAnany of the Chicago White Sox ended a no-hitter by the Yankees' Ralph Terry. Since the game was being videotaped, broadcaster Mel Allen asked director Terry Murphy to play a tape of McAnany's hit over the air.

On July 23, 1962, Major League Baseball had its first satellite telecast (via Telstar Communications). The telecast included portion of a contest between the Chicago Cubs vs. the Philadelphia Phillies from Wrigley Field with Jack Brickhouse commentating.

On July 17, 1964, a game out of Los Angeles between the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers became the first Pay TV baseball game. Basically, subscription television offered the cablecast to subscribers for money. The Dodgers beat the Cubs by the score of 3-2, with Don Drysdale collecting 10 strikeouts along the way.

On March 17, 1965, Jackie Robinson became the first black network (ABC) broadcaster for Major League Baseball. That year, ABC provided the first-ever nationwide baseball coverage with weekly Saturday broadcasts on a regional basis. Some time later, Bill White became the first black man to regularly do play-by-play work for Major League Baseball.

On October 13, 1971, the World Series held a night game for the first time. [5] Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, who felt that baseball could attract a larger audience by featuring a prime time telecast (as opposed to a mid-afternoon broadcast, when most fans either worked or attended school), pitched the idea to NBC. An estimated 61 million people watched Game 4 on NBC TV ratings for a World Series game during the daytime hours would not have approached such a record number. In subsequent years, all weekday games would be played at night.

Except for Game 1 in both series, all League Championship Series games in 1975 were regionally televised. Meanwhile, Game 3 of both League Championship Series were aired in prime time, the first time such an occurrence happened.

On October 18, 1977, ABC's Bill White became the first African American broadcaster to preside over the presentation of the Commissioner's Trophy at the conclusion of the World Series.

In 1985, NBC's telecast of the All-Star Game out of the Metrodome in Minnesota was the first program to be broadcast in stereo by a TV network. Also in 1985, ABC announced that every game of the World Series would be played under the lights for the biggest baseball audience possible. It marked the first time that all World Series games were played at night.

In 1989, NBC's Gayle Gardner became the first woman to regularly host Major League Baseball games for a major television network.

In 1990, CBS Sports' Lesley Visser became the first female to cover the World Series, serving as their lead field reporter. In addition to working the World Series from 1990-1993 for CBS, Visser covered the 1995 World Series for ABC Sports via The Baseball Network.

On August 3, 1993, Gayle Gardner became the first woman to do television play-by-play for a Major League Baseball game. It was the Colorado Rockies vs. Cincinnati Reds on KWGN-TV in Denver.

Also in 1993, CBS' Andrea Joyce became the first woman to co-host the network television coverage of the World Series. Joyce co-hosted that particular World Series with Pat O'Brien.

In 1995, NBC's Hannah Storm not only became the first woman to serve as solo host a World Series game, but also the first woman to preside over the World Series Trophy presentation.

In 1996, ESPN began a five-year contract with Major League Baseball worth $440 million and about $80 million per year. ESPN paid for the rights to a Wednesday doubleheader and the Sunday night Game of the Week, as well as all postseason games not aired on Fox or NBC. As a result, Major League Baseball postseason games were aired on cable for the very first time.

On July 8, 1997, Fox televised its first ever All-Star Game (out of Jacobs Field in Cleveland). For this particular game, Fox introduced "Catcher-Cam" in which a camera was affixed to catchers' masks in order to provide unique perspectives of the action around home plate. [7] Catcher-Cam soon would become a regular fixture in Fox's baseball broadcasts.

On March 31, 1998, NBC affiliate KXAS presented the first non-experimental high-definition broadcast of a regular-season game, an Opening Day contest between the Chicago White Sox and the Texas Rangers. [8] The White Sox prevailed that day, defeating the Rangers 8-1. [9]

2001 marked first year of split coverage of one League Championship Series game as well as the first cable involvement in LCS. Game 5 of the NLCS and Game 4 of the ALCS were split between the Fox Broadcasting Company and Fox Sports Net. 2001 also featured the first cable League Division Series game to be aired in prime time.

The 2002 World Series, broadcast on Fox, was the first World Series to be broadcast in high-definition.

With TBS acquiring rights to air one half of the League Championship Series (the other half going to Fox), 2007 marked the first time that an LCS was broadcast exclusively on cable. It also marked the first time that cable television produced postseason games weren't available on over-the-air television in the participating teams' home markets. [10]

Also in 2007, ESPN2 broadcast the Major League Baseball Draft. It was the first time [11] the draft was televised.

2009 marked the first time that Baseball Hall of Fame election ceremony was broadcast live, when MLB Network televised the occasion.

Also in 2009, New York Yankees broadcaster Suzyn Waldman [12] became the first woman to work a World Series game from the broadcast booth.

On August 24, 2015, Jessica Mendoza was the first female analyst for a Major League Baseball game in the history of ESPN, during a game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Arizona Diamondbacks. [13] On August 30, 2015, Mendoza filled in for suspended color commentator Curt Schilling for the Cubs-Dodgers game on Sunday Night Baseball. Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta pitched a no hitter in the game. John Kruk, Dan Shulman and Mendoza called the 2015 American League Wild Card Game on October 6, and Mendoza became the first female analyst in MLB postseason history. [14]

Safeco Field First with LED Lights

In recent years, the conversion of standard lights to their energy-sipping LED counterparts has revolutionized energy consumption at ballparks. In 2014, Seattle's Safeco Field became the first major league ballpark to make the switch to LEDs. With the LEDs, energy consumption is reduced about 60 percent even though the fixtures are 20-30 percent brighter than those they replaced. Since the light emitted more closely resembles sunlight, players and fans enjoy improved visibility. The LEDs also allow for ultra-slow motion replays without the characteristic light flicker common with metal-halide bulbs. Annual energy savings are estimated to be about $50,000.

Over the years, night baseball not only survived, it flourished. Today, more than four of five MLB games are played at night. More than 130 years have passed since Edward Weston flamboyantly demonstrated the power of his arc lights along Nantasket Beach in Massachusetts. More than eight decades after the Reds-Phillies night game in Cincinnati, today&rsquos energy-efficient LED lights bathe major league ballparks in the best light yet, a light closer to the color temperature of sunlight that any of its predecessors.

Baseball season may soon be winding down, but we have months of football watching to go! See how your team's city ranked in our list of "Greenest To Environmentally Meanest" NFL cities.

Watch the video: World Series G7: Giants vs. Royals Full Game HD (July 2022).


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