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Night Game: 194x

New York circa 1940s. "Night baseball at Ebbets Field -- Cincinnati Reds vs. Brooklyn Dodgers." International News photo. View full size.

New York circa 1940s. "Night baseball at Ebbets Field -- Cincinnati Reds vs. Brooklyn Dodgers." International News photo. View full size.


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The Reds have experience at this night stuff...

They were the first Major League team to play a game under lights in 1935....

Why did the photogs need to be that close?

Film was slower (ASA 400 Tri-X was a fifties invention) and grainier, thus the 2"x3" or 4"x5" Graphics and flashes (to support the high shutter speed necessary to stop action and the smaller aperture to get good depth of field). Telephotos were not common, so to get a good resolution shot, you needed to be close.

Date of game

I believe this is might be a photo of the first night game ever played at Ebbetts Field June 15, 1938. The last year the Dodgers wore white caps at home was 1938 and the opponent is correct. If this is from that date this would be the game where Cincinnati pitcher Johnny Vander Meer threw the second of his two consecutive no-hitters (the only pitcher ever to do this)

A Couple of Changes Since Then

Yes, photographers used to be allowed on the field. That practice stopped in the National League in 1954. Also, you will notice the lack of an umpire at second base. Four-umpire crews did not become standard in the major leagues until 1952.

Photogs on the field

It used to be commonplace back in this era for press photographers to be on the field, and not just at home plate. Here is a good article discussing what it was like.

Field standards

I'm always surprised at the standards of today with regard to turf when I see old photos or film of sports venues from 70 or 80 years ago. This is not a case of incompetent turf maintenance, it was the standard. Golf is the same way. Look at the greens in old Bobby Jones film and you'll see grass that would get a course superintendent fired immediately. Even in those made-for-TV golf tournaments in the early '60s you can see how far turf maintenance standards have come.

Bush league infield

Is that a group of photographers I see right up there beside the batter? That's something I've never seen! But I also haven't ever watched a lot of baseball, especially of this vintage. I've also seen just enough baseball to know that that infield looks like it could use a little maintenance.

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