Friday the 13th and Arkansas’ First Night Baseball Game

Those who are superstitious know that Friday the 13th can bring about odd, unusual or different events.  And of course, people in baseball are very superstitious. Therefore, it should be know surprise that Friday the 13th of July, 1894, brought a whole different type of baseball to Arkansas for one night. In fact, there wouldn’t be another baseball game like it in the state for 36 years.

On this particular day, Arkansas hosted it’s first ever baseball game played at night at West End Park in Little Rock, AR. The Arkansas Gazette described it this way the following day:

“BASEBALL BY ELECTRIC LIGHT.
Rose Citys Defeated the Uncle Joes.  Score 6 to 4.

A large crowd witnessed the game of ball at West End Park last night between the Rose Citys and Uncle Joes.  The First regiment Band discoursed delightful music both before and after the game.  The First Regiment Band has greatly improved and is now one of the best in the State.  Baseball by electric light is a new thing in Little Rock, but as predicted it was a success.  All those in attendance expressed themselves as delighted with last night’s game.

Weber and Martz played with the Uncle Joes, and Kemmer did the twirling for the Rose Citys.

There was plenty of light and the game was played as though in broad day light.  The game resulted, Rose Citys, 6; Uncle Joes, 4.  Last night’s game was an experiment, and as it proved such a success should another game be played soon the park will be crowded to overflowing.  Mcalister and Kemmer have signed with Camden.”

The very first ever night game anywhere in the country had occurred way back in 1880 in Hull, Massachusetts, but the first night games in the south did not occur perhaps as late as a week or two before the game in Little Rock. Thus, the game played on Friday the 13th was one of the first ever night baseball games played anywhere in the south.

However, even though the night game in Little Rock was credited as a success, there are no accounts of any similar games played in Arkansas thereafter, that is, until 1930. In fact, Arkansas second night game was also at West End Park, though it was now known as Kavanaugh Field. On July 21st, the Little Rock Travelers and the Birmingham Barons, played the first night game in the Southern Association, again restoring the idea of night baseball experimented with 36 years earlier.