Saturday, May 24, 2014

On this date in Reds history: Reds emerge victorious in first ever night game

As with most things in life, the idea of playing baseball at night was not well received at first. Sanctimonious owners saw playing baseball under artificial lighting as a disgrace to the dignity of the game . However, the Reds, led by general manager Larry MacPhail and owner Powel Crosley, were convinced that night baseball was the way of the future. It took some time, but declining attendance and financial suffering eventually pushed Cincinnati and the rest of baseball to play games after dusk. For this reason, MacPhail and Crosley are widely credited as the fathers of night baseball.

The following is an excerpt taken from Redleg Journal which provides some color on the first game. The book provides an in-depth look into Reds history and is co-authored by Greg Rhodes and John Snyder.

May 24, 1935 - The Reds win the first night game in major league history with a 2-1 victory over the Phillies before a crowd of 20,422. Paul Derringer started for the Reds and outdueled Philadelphia's Joe Bowman

Among those in attendance were National League president Ford Frick, who threw out the first, American League president Will Harridge, and George Cahill, who staged a night game between amateur teams on the field in 1909. Pre-game entertainment included a band concert, a fireworks display, and marching by color guards from Norwood to Newport and two posts from the American Legion. The Reds waited until dusk before turning the on the lights, so it would have the maximum dramatic effect. At 8:30, President Franklin Roosevelt pressed a button in the White House that illuminated the 632 lights at Crosley Field. The Cincinnati Times-Star reported that the transition "was so glamorous, so sudden, so utterly thrilling that a mighty roar arose from the stands as night was converted into day by the tremendous inundation of illumination." The two teams were given 15 minutes of infield practice to adjust to the lights before the 9 o'clock start. The first batter was Phillies second basemen Lou Chiozza, who grounded out on a Paul Derringer pitch to shortstop Billy Myers.

In hindsight, it's hard to imagine anyone not being a fan of nighttime baseball. It allowed the working man to work normal hours during the day and catch a game at night. This led to increased ticket sales and attendance across the board. More importantly, it enhanced the fan experience.

Photo Credit: The Sporting News

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