MacPhail moved from Cincinnati to Brooklyn and turned on lights in Ebbets Field, the second big league park to be so equipped. When he crossed the river to Yankee Stadium, he brought night ball to that cathedral of the game. He always warned against overdoing it, arguing that night ball would lose its attraction as a novelty if a club played more than seven games after dark, or at most 14, in a season.
IN GOD'S SUNSHINE
Baseball has followed his lead and ignored his advice. Fifteen of the 16 major league clubs—the Chicago Cubs are the big exception—have lighting plants. Of 1,232 games in the American and National Leagues this year, 454 were scheduled for night. In the American League last season, attendance averaged 9,656 by day (including the big Sundays, holidays and double-headers) and 14,228 at night. In the National League, the figures were comparable, 9,544 against 16,395.
There still are some holdouts. Babe Ruth knocked the night game early. Joe DiMaggio, retiring, said it took five years off his career. Aging sentimentalists, including this one, whose affection for baseball was nurtured on lazy summer afternoons in sunny cow-pastures, take a dim view of the brightest lights.
But the financial figures have the last word, of course, because baseball is a business. There are many times more people free to buy entertainment at night than in the afternoon. "The game was meant to be played in God's sunshine," Washington's Clark Griffith used to say. Then he saw the financial figures, and henceforth left the sunshine to God.