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Popular Science July 1948
These were very interesting but the one on lighting baseball fields was especially so to me, because my father, Earl D. Payne was one of the lead illumination engineers working for the Cincinnati Gas & Electric Co. ( subcontracted by GE ) who designed the lighting layout for
Crosley Field lighting in ' 35. The GE Co. required the field must be at least twice as bright as the best minor league ball field. CG&E exceeded this using 632 Mazda C floodlights & spotlights on eight towers strategically placed about the perimeter of the field in such a way that the floodlights did not negatively affect the hitters or the defensive players on the field.
The 1st row of lights was about 115 ft. above the playing surface. The outfield light towers had six rows of lights, each about two feet above the previous row of lights. They used a combination of open faced floodlighting projectors with one or two 1500 watt Mazda C lamps as well as spotlights with closed clear bug & water resistant transparent materials. The 1st night game in Cinti., Ohio was on 24 May ' 35. The field was illuminated with almost 1 million watts of electric power. The second game they actually powered the lamps @ 10% over the rated power giving over 1 million watts of power to the floodlights. This shortened the life of the lamps, but each team was only permitted 7 night games a year until President Franklin Roosevelt gave his " Green Light " letter,
15 Jan. ' 42 to the baseball commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis encouraging all teams to play more night games so the dayshift could see a ball game after working 8 - 5 Mon. - Fri.
By 1941 a total of 11 of the 16 Major League teams were using artificial illumination to light their
large ball fields. The 1st year of playing only seven light baseball games & the lights paid for the total cost of the lighting which was $50,000. The Reds were in last place in ' 33 & ' 34 attracting only 218,000 & 207,000 customers with 77 games, or in other words they were averaging between 2000 - 3000 customers per day game on week days.
The 1st night game had a total of 20,422 people & it was a cool night in May ' 35. The seven night games brought in over 130,000 people or averaged about 18,500 per night game: these lights were the prototype for all ball parks in the next 30 years. The Reds generated more interest in baseball & by the end of the ' 35 season 448,000 people paid to see the Reds play baseball. By ' 38 they were on the road to victory & by ' 39 & ' 40 they won the National League Pennant as well as the World Series in ' 40 over the Tigers in seven games. You may see more text, stories & photos of light baseball by going to Google & type Let There Be Light A History of Night Baseball 1880 - 2008.
Red Barber said, "... as soon as the lights came on I knew they were there to stay. " He also said the lights started a new era in baseball.
By 1948 every Major League ball field was illuminated excepting only Wrigley Field who saw the light in 1988.
The review is by Robert Payne,