MLB holds first night game - HISTORY
Year
1935

MLB holds first night game

The Cincinnati Reds beat the Philadelphia Phillies 2-1 on this night in 1935 in Major League Baseball’s first-ever night game, played courtesy of recently installed lights at Crosley Field in Cincinnati.

The first-ever night game in professional baseball took place May 2, 1930, when a Des Moines, Iowa, team hosted Wichita for a Western League game. The game drew 12,000 people at a time when Des Moines was averaging just 600 fans per game. Evening games soon became popular in the minors: As minor league ball clubs were routinely folding in the midst of the Great Depression, adaptable owners found the innovation a key to staying in business. The major leagues, though, took five years to catch up to their small-town counterparts.

The first big league night game on this day in 1935 drew 25,000 fans, who stood by as President Roosevelt symbolically switched on the lights from Washington, D.C. To capitalize on their new evening fan base, the Reds played a night game that year against every National League team–eight games in total–and despite their lousy record of 68-85, paid attendance rose 117 percent.

Though baseball owners had a well-deserved reputation for being old-fashioned, most teams soon followed suit, as they knew night games would benefit their bottom line. Teams upgraded their facilities to include lights throughout the 1930s and 40s, and before long, most of the league had night games on the schedule. Wrigley Field, on Chicago’s North Side–the second oldest major league park after Boston’s Fenway–was the last of the parks to begin hosting night games. Wrigley’s tradition of hosting only day games held for 74 seasons until August 8, 1988, when the Cubs hosted the Philadelphia Phillies. That game was rained out in the third inning, so Wrigley’s first night game is officially recorded as a 6-4 win over the New York Mets on August 9, 1988. The Cubs are the only major league team that still plays the majority of their home games during the day.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

What hath God wrought?

In a demonstration witnessed by members of Congress, American inventor Samuel F.B. Morse dispatches a telegraph message from the U.S. Capitol to Alfred Vail at a railroad station in Baltimore, Maryland. The message–“What Hath God Wrought?”–was telegraphed back to the Capitol a ...read more

Copernicus dies

On May 24, 1543, Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus dies in what is now Frombork, Poland. The father of modern astronomy, he was the first modern European scientist to propose that Earth and other planets revolve around the sun.Prior to the publication of his major ...read more

Brooklyn Bridge opens

After 14 years and 27 deaths while being constructed, the Brooklyn Bridge over the East River is opened, connecting the great cities of New York and Brooklyn for the first time in history. Thousands of residents of Brooklyn and Manhattan Island turned out to witness the ...read more

The Bismarck sinks the Hood

On this day in 1941, Germany’s largest battleship, the Bismarck, sinks the pride of the British fleet, HMS Hood.The Bismarck was the most modern of Germany’s battleships, a prize coveted by other nation’s navies, even while still in the blueprint stage (Hitler handed over a copy ...read more

Goldwater suggests using atomic weapons

Senator Barry Goldwater (R-Arizona), running for the Republican Party nomination in the upcoming presidential election, gives an interview in which he discusses the use of low-yield atomic bombs in North Vietnam to defoliate forests and destroy bridges, roads, and railroad lines ...read more

Joseph Brodsky is born

Today is the birthday of poet Joseph Brodsky, born this day in St. Petersburg, Russia. His poetry treats such universal topics as life, death, and the meaning of existence.Brodsky’s early poetry won critical acclaim, but the Soviet government considered him a loafer and sentenced ...read more

Duke Ellington dies

The highest compliment Edward Kennedy Ellington knew how to pay to a fellow musician was to refer to him as being “beyond category.” If any label could possibly capture the essence of Ellington himself, it would be that one. In a career spanning five decades, the man they called ...read more

Riot erupts at soccer match

A referee’s call in a soccer match between Peru and Argentina sparks a riot on this day in 1964. More than 300 fans were killed and another 500 people were injured in the violent melee that followed at National Stadium in Lima, Peru. The match was a qualifier for the 1964 ...read more

Lori Ann Auker disappears from a parking lot

Lori Ann Auker, a 19-year-old pet shop worker, disappears from Northumberland County, Pennsylvania. After failing to show up for work, her car was found the next day in the parking lot of the Susquehanna Mall where The Pet Place was located. Police had no clues as to what had ...read more

John Foster Dulles dies

After battling cancer for nearly three years, former Secretary of State John Foster Dulles dies. Dulles served as secretary of state from 1953 until shortly before his death in 1959 and was considered one of the primary architects of America’s Cold War foreign policy during that ...read more

Battle of North Anna continues

Union General Ulysses S. Grant continues to pound away at Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia in the engagement along the North Anna River in central Virginia, that had begun the day before. Since early May, Lee and Grant had been slugging it out along an arc from the ...read more