Middle Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1900-1948

By Dean A. Sullivan | Go to book overview
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5
Lights, Action, History

The most significant development in baseball during the years of the Depression was the introduction of artificial illumination. It was first popularized by the Kansas City Monarchs, who played many games under their portable lighting system, including a memorable loss to Smokey Joe Williams and the Pittsburgh (later Homestead) Grays in 1930. The innovation was adopted by numerous minor league clubs, who credited the ability to play night games with saving their industry. Later in the decade some major league clubs installed lights with great success, but fans of the Chicago Cubs—who resisted the trend—were grateful that one of the greatest moments in their history, Gabby Hartnett's pennant-winning home run in the gloaming, was made possible by the absence of artificial light.

History was on the minds of others in baseball, as Cooperstown, New York boosters took steps to commemorate the game's greats in a Hall of Fame. Both the major leagues and the Negro Leagues started playing annual All-Star games, which enabled them to commemorate current stars. Two of those stars, Babe Ruth and Dizzy Dean, ended their careers after falling victim to age and injury, but the seemingly invincible Lou Gehrig ended his historic consecutive game streak only after developing a fatal disease that later was named for him. In the meantime Commissioner Landis continued to make history of his own, but for the most part his efforts were overshadowed by the explosion of scoring that made the 1930s one of the most exciting decades in baseball history.

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