Night Baseball History

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Night baseball games are pretty common nowadays but that wasn't always the case. Naturally, human beings tend to take for granted things that are common today but were practically a luxury in the past. That’s what this article is about: to show the evolution of this wonderful sport and how lighting technology played a crucial role in allowing baseball to remain one of the most popular sports in the country!
The first baseball night game(s)
Did you know that that the very first baseball game played under lights involved two amateur teams in Massachusetts in 1880? On September the 2nd, three wooden towers that supported electric arc lamps provided light at Strawberry Hill in a baseball match between two major department stores from Boston. It
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Wilkinson, the owner of the Kansas City Monarchs, decided to organize games at night so more people could come and watch. Using six 50-foot tall portable floodlights with electric tungsten filament bulbs, Wilkerson turned this idea into reality. The attendance of Monarchs games that season tripled and a decade later, most of the MLB teams had installed lights in their stadiums. The Cincinnati Reds even invested $50,000 (850,000 in today’s money) for installing huge floodlights at their stadium. Mr. Wilkerson is today known as the ‘father of night baseball’.

A game changer: The Metal-Halide Lamp of the 1950s
The next innovation in lighting technology that impacted sports was Gilbert Reiling’s 1959 invention of the metal-halide lamp. Reiling’s invention entered the market in 1962, the same year when Nick Holonyak Jr. developed the first LED that emitted light in the visible part of the frequency range. However it took quite a while for LED lights to become a feasible market option. Reiling’s Metal Halide lamps offered a more pleasant, neutral color, and were more efficient than incandescent bulbs. This was the main reason why they remained the standard for outdoor sports lighting in the next 50 years.
How did LED lights become a first option for stadium
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Not only are LED lights more efficient and can help teams decrease their electricity consumption but they also provide better visibility with a brighter and more natural light. The traditional metal halide fixtures have a CRI rating of 63 (the sun’s CRI is 100) while most LED stadium lights have a CRI rating of 80+, which brings dramatic improvements in visibility for both, the players on the field and the fans in the stands.
As we’ve seen, baseball lighting has come a long way and not only did baseball night games survived but also flourished. Today, 4 out of 5 games are played at night which makes the achievement of stadium lighting even greater. It’s really impressive how lighting technology helped change the game we all love and allowed us not to miss a single play even during the
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