Under the Lights
November 21, 1902: The Kanaweola Athletic Club loses to the Philadelphia Athletics 39-0. Kanaweola Athletic Club began as a bicycling club and was based in Elmira, New York. They boasted an indoor bicycling track located within the Steele Memorial Library building. They were also able to pull together a football team. On this date, a game began at 8 PM at the Maple Avenue Driving Park in Elmira. The locale is today known as Dunn Field. They met their superior opponents and failed miserably. The next day, the local newspaper simply printed the score. What was not touted then, and wasn’t realized for quite some time, was the significance of the game rather than just the score. It was the first pro football game to be played at night.
The Philadelphia Athletics were a member of the National Football League which is totally different from the NFL today. The earlier league was a mixture of both professional baseball and football and was only in existence for a year. The football team was formed as part of the baseball wars between the National League and the American League which began the year before. Teams from one side or the other attempted to lure players away from opposing teams. The Philadelphia Phillies owner decided to start a football team and so the Philadelphia Athletics owner decided to go along. Both teams used many of their baseball players on their football teams. In order to be a World Champion football team, they would need to play a team from Pittsburgh where football was king.
The Philadelphia Athletics had a great left-handed pitcher – when he was in the mood. But he had mood swings. The papers of the day noted his erratic behavior. The coaches felt that including Rube Waddell in their football lineup would give them a few more months of trying to control his performance and he was signed as an extra lineman. They failed miserably at trying to control their star baseball player who had no interest in football. The team lost their first championship game and out of defeat scheduled a second. They won that and then called the first a Stars Game to explain how their loss could turn into a win. The team had a second season in 1903 before collapsing.
A night game played outdoors after sunset. While technically true to call any sporting event after sunset a night game, it is realized that sports played indoors are always played with artificial lighting. The significance of a night game is that it is played “under the lights”. The lights can be floodlights or low-light conditions, depending on the sport. Baseball was first played under the lights back in the 1880s but it was thought of as a gimmick and not appreciated. Their first big game under the lights came in 1935 when the Philadelphia Phillies played the Cincinnati Reds on May 24. Cricket was late to the night game party with the first lighted game in 1952. The idea finally really took off in 1977 and international interest in the sport increased dramatically. Motorsports come with their own lights since endurance races can continue after sunset. But it is also possible to light the track for races. This innovation was brought to the public in 1992 when Charlotte Motor Speedway lit their 1 mile track.
All sports are time control demonstrations. – Buckminster Fuller
In the field of sports you are more-or-less accepted for what you do rather than what you are. – Althea Gibson
As best as I can tell, God was undefeated in all sports last year. Anybody who won thanked Him, and I never heard a single loser blame Him. – Lewis Grizzard
Unlike any other business in the United States, sports must preserve an illusion of perfect innocence. – Lewis H. Lapham
Also on this day: Missing Link – In 1953, the Piltdown Man was declared a hoax.
North, to Alaska – In 1942, the Alaskan Highway’s completion was celebrated.
Senator Rebecca – In 1922, the first female US Senator took her seat.
Revolting – In 1910, the Revolt of the Lash took place.
Terrorism – In 1974, two Birmingham, England pubs were bombed.
* “1902 Athletics Football” by Unknown – http://home.comcast.net/~ghostsofthegridiron/Phillies-Athletics.htm. Licensed under PD-US via Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:1902_Athletics_Football.jpg#/media/File:1902_Athletics_Football.jpg