Lighting is an integral yet understated part of baseball. Sandlot ball depends on daylight, and the major leagues are bathed in fluorescence. The journey from one to the other is graded in a way that might just be unique to the sport. Basketball is forever indoor, and even a rec league can play on a well-lit court. Hockey requires an indoor space most of the time, and even my high school’s three-walled court was all up in the lights. Friday Night Lights might suggest that football has some things in common with baseball, but most football games are still day games.
Looking at this picture, it seems that the graded transition that the professional baseball player undergoes throughout his journey mimics the same transition that the sport made as a whole. Ted Williams played in the first decade after the first night game on May 24, 1935, when the Cincinnati Reds beat the Philadelphia Phillies 2-1 at Crosley Field. His time produced these dusty and dark images dripping with nostalgia. The angles and the shadows recall the chiaroscuro of black and white films. Call it the Noire period, about a decade early.
Fast forward to our time and our iconic, stark and well-lit images. Just a couple weeks ago, a game between the Giants and the Cardinals was delayed 14 minutes when merely one of the many banks of lights at Busch Stadium went out. Though the field looked well-lit to any sandlot player, the players had to wait, confused, as the stadium tried to rectify the issue. The play-by-play men joked that everyone could see fine and was ready to put this extra-inning game to bed. Conspiracy theories of icing the closer were bandied about. Most any whiffle ball player would have shrugged and thrown the next pitch.
We’ve come a long way, baby. Right?
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