On May 24, 1935, the Cinncinati Reds and Philadelphia Phillies did something for the first time in Major League Baseball – they played a night game. Under the illumination of powerful floodlights, this nocturnal meeting was an experiment, one that previously found limited success in both the Negro Leagues and the Minor Leagues. Here is a rare chronicle of one of these early games in 1902 (and a wonderfully retro clip in all regards).
Anyway, the big league experiment worked, and night games soon became enormously popular, to the extent that the majority of games would eventually be played after sunset, with only a few day games scattered throughout the season. Of course, change often comes slowly in some parts. The World Series wouldn’t play a night game until 1971, and even more surprising, the Chicago Cubs refrained from this popular trend all the way until 1988, when they finally played an evening game at Wrigley Field.
But while some may not have embraced change as quickly as others, one thing is undeniable – the addition of lights served to allow far more people to enjoy America’s pastime and it is almost impossible to imagine a time when it wasn’t possible to head over to the ballpark after a long day’s work – to indulge in a hearty dinner of Cracker Jack and hot dogs while rooting for the home team.
As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of night games in baseball, we welcome your comments.