5,000 Penn Park fans witnessed first York night baseball
This York (Pa.) Gazette story from Aug. 29, 1901, tells about the first night baseball game played in York – and probably York County. Special rules were put in for this game. Background posts: Sons of Union vets seeking relatives of Civil War soldier from U.S. Colored Troops, 32nd Regiment and York’s American War Mothers monument captures interest and Adding to York baseball timeline: Revs ready for ‘second helping’
Officials are looking for ways to give York’s Penn Park new life.
The relatively light use of the city park today can shroud its heavy use throughout history.
For example, it was the place where freedman from the South headed upon reaching York, north of the Mason-Dixon Line.
It housed a large Civil War military hospital.
And, on a lighter note, a ballpark, complete with grandstand, home of a Penn Park team, operated there. It was there that York’s first night baseball game was played in late August 1901… .
A crowd of 5,000 people crowded into the grandstands, bleachers and stood behind the right field fence to witness this landmark event.
Special rules were put in play.
“There could be no home runs as only two bases could be taken on a ball that went beyond the lights, which were planted just a few feet beyond the lines leading from first to second and from second to third bases,” the newspaper reported.
Batsmen hit a limited flight ball, a very limited flight ball.
The ball was not made of the usual leather, but of rags, sewed tightly together.
It was three times the normal size and was difficult to knock out of the diamond, meaning the area where the lights reached. The ball rolled out of this area only two or three times.
Perhaps because it was a late start – 8 p.m. – or perhaps to save electricity, the game was played in less than an hour and one-half, the fastest then on record.
At a time that Penn Park is struggling 100 years later, perhaps Little League baseball would be an attraction to bring people into this still-beautiful piece of land. Maybe the York Revolution could sponsor such a team and contribute to the building of a field.
In other words, if Atlantic League baseball is a apt strategy for aiding the comeback of York, perhaps kids-level ball is part of the rehabilitation of Penn Park.
With or without lights.