Baseball under the Lights
With Detroit down 3 games to none and on the ropes, maybe it’s time to focus on the game and its technology instead?
Wayne Gerdes - CleanMPG - Oct. 28, 2012
Let there be light! The first major league night game under the lights took place on May 24th, 1935 in Cincinnati at Crosley Field where 20,000 fans watched the struggling Reds beat the Phillies 2-1 with the stars shining brightly from above.
Shining by the light from above for 77-years and counting…
James T. Golden, Jr., a Cincinnati Enquirer sports writer wrote in 1935: “…The sphere stood out against the sky like a pearl against dark velvet.”
GE’s participation in America’s pastime has provided pain, pitfalls and more importantly entertainment under the lights for billions and more than 3 generations.
While on the An All-American Road Trip with the 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, the goal was to move a car from NY to LA and do so more fuel efficiently than having it trucked. While that was the easy part, it was the continuous string of ball games and parks visited that made it more than just your average cross country trip in a spectacularly fuel efficient and comfortable car.
Along the way, we visited the Met’s Citi Field, Indian’s Progressive Field, Brewer’s Miller Park, The Card’s Busch Stadium, the Royals, Kauffman Stadium, the Rockies Coors Field, and even Chase Field, home of the Diamond Backs. Hell, we even visited the Field of Dreams in Dyersville, IA.
The one thing all of these fields had in common was not just the fact Home plate was a scant 60 ft. 6 in. away from the pitcher’s mound (think about that the next time you see a 98 mph fastball being hurled towards the catcher on TV) or that a batter is always just 90 ft. from being “safe” at first.
The interesting part of the game that made it accessible to more fans than ever before is the fact that all of these stadiums from the most elaborate to one cut from the fertile earth of an Iowa corn field all have “Lights”!
Play ball and origins of the Night Game
Night baseball started in the minors when R.J. Swackhammer, a GE lighting designer, created the lighting layout for the first Minor League Baseball night game in 1930. Major League Baseball night games received the same from a then struggling early 1930s Cincinnati Reds team. Attendance for a weekday game was averaging between just 2,000 and 3,000 fans. The reason why? People work during the day!
Leland “Larry” MacPhail and Powel Crosley, the GM and owner of the Reds respectively, noticed a positive correlation between lights and attendance in the now lit Minor League Baseball parks. Despite the team’s financial woes, the Reds boldly decided to install lights at Crosley Field. Major League Baseball has not been the same since.
On May 24, 1935, the first night baseball game was played under GE lights with more than 20,000 fans in attendance—about 10 times the number that had been attending the Red’s day games. For the seven games played under the lights at Crosley Field that year, average attendance stood at 18,500 fans. It was a success that forever changed how baseball would be played and experienced.
Red Barber, who announced the first Major League Baseball night game, said:
The last bastion of daylight baseball…
Aug 8, 1988 at 6:05 p.m., 91-year-old Cubs fan Harry Grossman began the countdown. "Three . . . two . . . one . . . Let there be lights!" And Chicago’s Wrigley experienced night baseball in earnest for the very first time.
"Wrigley Field: Fans Shed Light on the Game"
The controversy over whether to install lights for night games at Wrigley Field in Chicago saw Scott Mutter create the above image of Cub fans lighting the ball diamond with flashlights. This artwork touched off a national sensation and became one of baseball’s most enduring images over the last decade of the 20th century.
Even though night games at Wrigley Field are no longer a novelty, the magic of the image provides a dramatic graphic depiction of the relationship between professional ball players on the field and the fans.
During the 2012 regular season, the National League played 66 percent of its games at night, while the American League played 68 percent of its games at night.
Innovations in Field Lighting Technology
With the rise of color television coverage, the original lights installed in many baseball stadiums (about 75-foot-candles of light output) were no longer adequate to light the fields and meet the new demands of our nations broadcasters.
Today at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, the GE stadium lights have an output of about 200 foot candles of light on the outfield and more than 300 foot candles of light on the infield, providing a crisp and clear night baseball game for all fans—those enjoying the game inside the stadium and those watching at home.
Today’s technologies and designs aim to provide better spill-light control, less maintenance and longer life.
GE: “Designing Light”
From initial planning to installation, tailoring the lights to fit different stadiums can take about 24 months.
Debbie Johnson, a lighting designer with GE Lighting:
As our national pastime’s switch is thrown to turn out the lights for the final time this year sometime this week, there is always next year. As a closet Cub fan, I can only hope next year comes a lot sooner than the previous 104 have past…
|All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:30 AM.|
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.6.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2013, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright ©2006 - 2013, Clean MPG LLC. All Rights Reserved.