SCIENCE

How Technology Made Night Games Possible--And Changed Baseball History

Kansas City Monarchs pitching great Leroy Satchel Paige warms up at New York's Yankee Stadium August 2, 1942 for a Negro Leag
Kansas City Monarchs pitching great Leroy Satchel Paige warms up at New York's Yankee Stadium August 2, 1942 for a Negro League game between the Monarchs and the New York Cuban Stars. Paige was considered a top prospect for the major leagues after baseball's commissioner ruled that there were no provisions barring players of color from the majors. (AP Photo/Matty Zimmerman)

J. L. “Wilkie” Wilkinson, a baseball team owner, needed to put more bodies in seats. It was 1930, the year after the stock market had crashed, and the Depression was taking its toll. Not even baseball was safe: One team had folded; a whole league disbanded. Wilkinson owned the Kansas City Monarchs, a winning team, but their daytime games made it impossible for working fans to attend.

Additionally, the Monarchs were members of the Negro National League and didn’t have their own stadium. Under the shadow of Jim Crow, where few stores and hotels would cater to them, playing baseball required lots of travel in unwelcoming conditions. And, while mostly black crowds attended the Monarchs’ games, the efforts to attract new white fans were fruitless...

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