Ah, nighttime baseball: The special anticipation of leaving work on a Tuesday and taking the train to the ballgame for cold beer and colder breezes. The particular preparation of a toting a backpack filled with sweatshirts and mittens, and painting on layer by layer in the stadium bathroom. The precious suffering of sitting in the nosebleed section with windspeeds of 40mph and windchill of 14.The unmistakable excited shivering in a cold hard plastic chair. Sound familiar? For all those frigid nights at the stadium, we have perhaps one school dropout to thank: Thomas Edison, and his lightbulb of 1879.
Back in the day of candles and horse-drawn buggies, baseball games used to occur only during the day time when there was sufficient sunlight to illuminate the field. Major League Baseball was actually one of the last baseball organizations to light their stadiums.
1880 marked one year after Thomas Edison’s initial light bulb model was released. Then, in Massachusetts, a night game where two department store teams faced off before a crowd of 300. It was no hit. The quality of the lighting was poor, and the players made many errors and had difficulty batting and throwing safely.
It was not until 1930, half a century later, and the year before Thomas Edison’s death, when the first major league game lit up the night. I would like to imagine that Mr. Edison was there smiling in Indianapolis when the Cincinnati Reds contested the Indianapolis Indians for an exhibition game. (But I unfortunately have found no evidence of this, nor do I know if Thomas Edison even enjoyed baseball.)