70 years ago today the Reds.. yes the Cincinnati Reds pulled the national pastime out of the small minded day game only mind think and dragged them (albeit kicking and screaming) into the day and age of night games, image that… games that guys who didn’t work swing shift could make, games that didn’t start at 3 in the afternoon allowing men to actually go home and eat dinner prior to taking his wife to the game.
Everyone knows the story, Powell Crosley, lights, Larry MacPhail, Reds in need of revenue, almost moved out of the city (no destination was ever revealed, though the Cardinals considered the same to Detroit or Toronto)
It was great day, a day late due to a rain out but a great day indeed.
Six facts about night baseball you did not know.
1. The AL wanted no part of it, so the vote ws only centered on the NL’s involvement.
2. A near unanimous vote allowed it, dissenting vote was Charles Stoneham of the Giants
3. The need was great as the whole league except the World Champion Cardinals had lost money in 1934
4. The feat was easier for the Reds due to Crosley’s radio business. His connections to a company in Kentucky that manufactured radio tubes for his Crosley radio line enabled him to have the massive light bulb order for the banks of lights done a cheaper rate than other teams could have secured.
5. The Reds spent $62,000 installing the 363 lights on eight giant towers above the grandstand which, when the President switched them on, poured more than 1,000,000 watts down on his field
6. The 20 K that did attend the game represented a 900% increase over the average attendance for the Reds
The 1st reactions – HOF ump Bill Klem: “Batters struck at more bad balls than they have in any other game I’ve seen this year.”
Reporter Stanley Frank in the New York Evening Post: “The personalities and faces of the players were lost in the haze. . . . The game became purely mechanical and synthetic.” Pitcher Sylvester Johnson of Philadelphia: “I missed my usual steak dinner. I know I can get it after the game but who wants to eat a big steak and then go to bed?”
Afte the game new NL president Ford Frick was quoted, I am quite impressed … I see no handicap to the players … I’m not sure that the attendance is due to the novelty … I believe we will have more of it in 1936.
Cardinal owner Sam Breadon had lobbied for lights in his town as well, he however rented the park from the AL Browns, who were locked out of the decision by the powers in their league. However Breadon was convinced it was going to be successful saying that he foresaw the Cardinals, Pirates and the Cubs playing home games beneath the lights sooner than later.
Well 2 out of 3 is not bad.