Baseball’s other technological challenge dealt with electric lights. While poets and the occasional baseball commissioner rhapsodized about baseball under the sun, daytime was not always a convenient time for fans. Encroaching darkness also wreaked havoc upon lengthy games, creating conduct unbecoming to the game as players employed delaying or hurry-up tactics depending upon whether they were winning or losing.
In retrospect, most baseball historians seemed to view lights as inevitable and owner resistance to them as baseball’s version of Luddite behavior. The reality for an owner was much more difficult. Electric lights represented a major investment of scarce capital, and Major League owners had plausible reasons for thinking that what worked in Minor League towns might not work in big league cities. (In some ways theater owners faced a similar dilemma with the advent of talking pictures: whether to invest in the sound system or to see whether talkies were a passing fad.) An economist might recognize elements of a positive externality. The fact that an owner was unable to capture all the gains from increased attendance under the lights because of the revenue-sharing rules was an additional deterrent to assuming the financial risk of putting in lights. The installation of lights might have been beneficial to baseball as a whole, but an individual owner might have found it to be against his self-interest.