05/04/2015 08:39 am ET Updated May 04, 2015

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


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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