It’s Friday afternoon and it’s been a long week. We can nearly see the end of winter as we Spring Forward late Saturday night. The calendar has flipped to the third month, therefore pitchers & catchers have reported to Spring Training and offices nationwide will soon be consumed by March Madness. And it has been over a week since I last filled this space with a detailed recap of living alone on the West Coast.

One positive of being independent in California is having the freedom to explore new places. I have covered most of Long Beach by foot and have mentioned that in previous entries. Usually there is no rush to leave work to fight freeway traffic. Other days I’ll depart promptly in hopes of racing home to beat the sunset or walking along the water. Some days I will choose to take the long way home just because…

I have spent the last three Friday nights spectating high-level college baseball. I first saw Opening Night when Michigan visited Long Beach State at historic Blair Field. The ballpark was near capacity and surprisingly vendors roamed the aisles selling beer. It was a cool California evening and both teams were sluggish for the first game of the season. The following Friday was an equally sleepy event where Stanford defeated Cal-State Fullerton. The Titans pitcher carried a no-hitter into the late innings and a Cardinal reliever lit up the radar gun, but there wasn’t much captivating action to recap. I most recently saw Tennessee play at UC-Irvine at beautiful Cicerone Field. Once again it was a low-scoring game with the Anteaters winning in the bottom of the ninth. This battle was more hotly contested and featured more hard-hit balls, better defensive plays, thoughtful late-inning strategy, and a dinger smacked outta the park in the first inning. I hope to keep the streak alive this weekend for the tandem of games at Dodger Stadium Sunday between Vanderbilt and TCU, then UCLA versus USC.

The best part of Friday in Irvine was my post game detour to Barley Forge Brewing in Costa Mesa. I’ve been trying to recommend it to anyone who will listen. If you see a sixer of Don Perfecto in your local liquor store, GRAB IT! I was left awkwardly hovering alone near the bar for most of the evening before eventually getting a seat, eagerly hoping to see a menu and order dinner. Unfortunately the kitchen had closed eight minutes earlier. Reasons to visit Barley Forge:

  • delicious craft brew variety and eclectic food menu
  • excellent venue to compare your beard/mustache with other beer connoisseurs
  • communal seating encourages conversation and Cards Against Humanity
  • knowledgeable, patient staff able to accommodate packed tasting room with a smile

It hasn’t yet occurred to me fully that golf season in California is year-round. Initially I was more concerned about getting settled into my apartment and routine. Then it was holiday season, followed by youth basketball coaching each Sunday. But now its harder to find a reason to not play. The forecast last weekend wasnt great but I still wandered out as a single at Navy Golf Course in Seal Beach. Lots of swings, lots of walking, lots of aches and pains in muscles I don’t actually have. But much better to spend the day playing 18 than shoveling out of a foot of snow. The Destroyer Course at Seal Beach was formerly private and for military use only. It was where Tiger Woods learned to perfect his game as a young golfer.


Anyway. That’s not why I called.

Last night I took a walk on the bridge across the Los Angeles River to get a completely different perspective of Long Beach, Shoreline Village, and Queensway Bay. If I paid more attention in high school photography class, I could have captured a better image of the full moon as it lingered over the sea. I’ve lived here for three months and was excited to discover a new route to stretch my legs… even if I was a little hesitant to get close to the railing as I crossed the bridge.


Weekday evenings are for walks around LBC and contemplating if I wish to attempt fixing dinner. On the weekend, the idea of cooking supper or cleaning the apartment isn’t appealing and is typically frowned upon. My navigational skills rival those of Magellan, but even I can’t screw up driving up and down PCH. I have previously ventured as far south as Laguna Beach, making stops in Seal Beach, Huntington Beach, and Newport Beach. I’ll open the sunroof and turn up the music tomorrow for a drive north into Malibu and onto campus at Pepperdine.

IMG_1983 IMG_2058 IMG_2062

UPDATED (AGAIN!) Best Friend List (California Version)

  1. Dry Clean Christine – Thanks for the warning that the shop would close early on Friday. I’ll have a full hampers’ worth of button downs and slacks next time I stop in.
  2. Billy Golf – I have had my best luck acquiring dude’s numbers since moving to Long Beach. I’m not sure what that says about the vibe I put out. Billy gave a friendly greeting as I teed off at Seal Beach and before I was into the fairway, I met a new friend, added another phone number, and was extended an offer to view his income property.
  3. Nekter Employee(s) – Still the healthiest part of my routine and the only method of consuming any fruits or vegetables. If the location was nearer to my apartment, I would be there every morning before work instead of only for weekend treats. I will seriously consider my proximity to the closest Nekter location when apartment hunting.
  4. STAVE bartender(s) – The Stave has become my favorite spot in Long Beach. Its crowded enough to be lively most nights, and I’m usually able to find a stool. Other patrons are typically friendly enough to engage and at least ask, “What are you drinking?” Each worker is well-versed in crafting cocktails or pouring a tumbler of bourbon. And they serve food from nearby Michael’s.
  5. Podcasts – I havent broken up with Chicago sports talk radio and still listen to Boers and Bernstein during my commute home. Freakonomics, Today I Found Out, and 99% Invisible also provide plenty of interesting material for those evenings when I’m restricted from Slingbox access. Where else would I learn about the origin of sideburns or the famous Portland Airport carpet?

Under the Lights: The First Baseball Game Played at Night

On a field about fifty miles from Boston, Strawberry Hill, on the evening of September 3, 1880, history was made. It is unlikely the department store employees who were tossing around a ball knew that this game would still be talked about 135 years later. As the crowd took their seats, the ball players took their positions; the Sun dipped below the horizon and the Moon rose. And then, the lights came on to illuminate the field. It was said the lights were as bright as “90,000 candles” burning simultaneously. This was the first baseball game played at night under artificial light. Here’s the story of that game and the history of baseball under the lights.

While it is commonly said that the great New Jersey inventor Thomas Edison gave the world its first commercially produced electrical lights, that is false. While Edison did produce the first commerciallyviable light bulb, there were other companies that were trying to compete in the industry at the same time using various forms of electrical lighting. One of them was Boston’s Northern Electric Light Company, using electric arc lamps and Weston equipment.

weston-arc-lampEnglishmen Edward Weston was a master electrician who began working with dynamos (electrical generators that produced direct current power through the use ofcommutators) in the 1870s. In 1875, Weston patented “rational construction of the dynamo,” that allowed him to “increase its efficiency from 45 percent to more than 90 percent.” When he premiered electric lamps using dynamo power at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876, attention was scarce. But that didn’t deter him and he moved to the US permanently in 1877 to set up his own workshop in Newark, New Jersey, only about twenty miles from Edison’s lab in Menlo Park. Also a master marketer, he began putting up his electric arc lamps around Newark, most prominently on Newark Fire Department’s watchtower right in the center of town. This led to an influx of orders for his lamps, including for the city’s Military Park in 1878 and Boston’s Forest Garden in 1879.

Now, it isn’t entirely clear if Weston Electric Light Company collaborated with the Northern Electric Light Company or they were branches of the same company, but either way, the companies excelled at marketing and publicity and this September ball game was a perfect way to show off what Weston equipment could do.

The game was between well-known Boston department stores (as was the case back then, most “professional” teams were made up of employees who the company recruited and sometimes paid to win games as bragging rights) owned by Jordan Marsh and R.H. White. Jordan Marsh & Company was regionally famous for its wide variety of wares and blueberry muffins. R.H. White Company was Marsh’s biggest competitor with a giant store downtown. They were to play for a “purse of $50” (about $1,300 today) provided by the electric company.

Tennessee vs UC-Irvine
Tennessee vs UC-Irvine

During the day of September 3rd, the Northern Electric Light Company set up three wooden towers overlooking the field on Strawberry Hill, which laid on the shores Nantasket Beach in Hull, Massachusetts. According to the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), the towers were erected five hundred feet apart from one another in a “equilateral triangle.” Each was one hundred feet high with one row of 12 electrical lights, as described by the Boston Herald, “of the Weston patent.”

As advertised by the company, each light was supposed to match the light power of 2,500 candles. So, with three towers, 12 lights each, there was supposed to be the light of 90,000 candles in this limited area. Dynamos stored in a small shed were used to generate a “motive-power of 36 horses.” As the Boston Herald noted, the Electric Light Company wanted to show off what they could do and hopefully attract bigger, better clients by creating “a model of the plan contemplated for lighting cities from overhead in vast areas, the estimate being that four towers to a square mile of area, each mounting lights aggregating 90,000 candle power, will suffice to flood the territory about with a light almost equal to midday.”

Stanford vs Cal-State Fullerton
Stanford vs Cal-State Fullerton

However, at the last moment, the department stores decide to forbid their employees from playing in the game. The reason is not known, but the players showed up anyway and played “sub rosa,” meaning in Latin “under the rose” or in secrecy, hence why all the accounts of the game do not mention players’ names or descriptions. If the players had been found out, there would be a chance they would no longer have a job. As recounted by the Official Scorer of the game thirty years after the fact, “inexpedient [for him] to mention any names of players, as some of them may still be employed in these establishments, although a number of players were recruited from the various jobbing houses in the dry-goods trade.”

It is not known how many fans exactly came out to the game. One account says about three hundred. Another account, noted with reporters added in, the number got closer to five hundred. Either way, it was pretty clear the fans came out not for the baseball, but for the light spectacle. In terms of the publicity, the game was a hit. But in practice and the quality of the game, not so much.

Complaints from reporters who attended the game appeared in the next day’s newspapers, centering around the amount of light. Said the Herald, “on account of the uncertain light, (resembling that of the moon at its full,) the batting was weak and the pitchers were poorly supported.” Baseball writer Preston Orem concluded that, “The light was quite imperfect and there were lots of errors made. The players had to bat and throw with caution. For the spectators the game had little interest as only the movements of the pitcher, in general, could be discerned, while the course of the ball eluded the vision of the watchers. … None of the reporters believed the idea to be at all practical.”

The game was tied 16 to 16 after nine innings, but the two teams agreed to call it, perhaps out of fear that the enveloping darkness would bring with it a line drive off the head. Additionally, it was noted that the players didn’t want to miss the last ferry to Boston, which was around 10 PM. For their efforts, the electric company rewarded the players and officials of the game with a generous supper (presumably back in Boston).

Michigan vs Long Beach State
Michigan vs Long Beach State

For the next fifty years, there would be sporadic night baseball games using artificial lights. In 1883, a game was played in Fort Wayne, Indiana in front of a couple thousand fans. A few more happened, but all were considered little more than a novelty. Into the 20th century, as electric lights became more mainstream, minor league baseball teams began hosting a night game or two per year. But it wouldn’t be until May 24, 1935 when Major League Baseball had its first night game under the lights between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Cincinnati Reds at Cincinnati’s Crosley Field. The home team won 2-1, but Clark Griffith, the owner of the Washington Senators, was skeptical. Saying to a newspaper, “There is no chance of night baseball ever being popular in the bigger cities. People there are educated to see the best there is and will stand for only the best. High-class baseball cannot be played at night under artificial light.”

Today, over eighty percent of Major League Baseball games are played at night, under the lights.



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