The first night home game for the Cardinals had two unintended consequences: It prompted the dismissal of their manager and led to a ban on serving beverages in glass bottles.
Stupp Brothers Bridge and Iron Company of St. Louis was hired to do the structural work and Westinghouse Electrical Supply Company was given the job of putting in the reflectors and floodlights on eight steel towers.
“It will require electrical energy totaling 1,176,000 watts per hour, not including lighting in the stands, to turn night into day at the historic old Grand Boulevard establishment,” The Sporting News reported. “This, it is said, would be sufficient juice to take care of the lighting needs of a city of 25,000 persons.”
The Browns got the honor of playing the first night game in St. Louis on May 24, 1940, against the Indians. Before 24,827 spectators on a Friday night, Bob Feller pitched a seven-hitter, struck out nine and hit his first big-league home run, leading the Indians to a 3-2 victory. Boxscore
Eleven nights later, the Cardinals got their first chance to play under the lights at home.
On June 4, 1940, 23,500 spectators turned out on a Tuesday night to see the Cardinals open a series against the Dodgers.
A runner-up to the National League champion Reds in 1939, the Cardinals stumbled early in 1940, losing 16 of their first 24 games. Their record was 14-22 entering the Dodgers series. Cardinals owner Sam Breadon was becoming increasingly impatient with second-year manager Ray Blades.
Seeking a sharp, winning performance before the large crowd in the club’s first night home game, Breadon saw just the opposite. Sparked by a three-run home run by Pete Coscarart off Mort Cooper, the Dodgers scored five in the first.
As the Dodgers added to the lead, “pop bottles thrown from the bleachers littered the outfield,” The Sporting News reported, “partly because the Dodgers rattled long drives off the wall and partly because of (inconsistent) umpiring.”
Though Cardinals cleanup batter Joe Medwick, who had gone hitless in his last 16 times at bat, went 5-for-5 with three doubles, the Cardinals stranded 14 and the Dodgers won, 10-1, behind left-hander Vito Tamulis, who scattered 11 hits. Boxscore
Disheartened by the debacle, Breadon made up his mind right then to fire Blades, The Sporting News reported.
The announcement of Blades’ firing came two days later, surprising general manager Branch Rickey, who hadn’t been informed by Breadon of the decision. Billy Southworth, managing the Cardinals’ minor-league club at Rochester, N.Y., was Breadon’s choice to replace Blades.
Breadon also announced that the Cardinals would use paper cups instead of bottles for serving cold drinks in the Sportsman’s Park bleachers.
The 1940 Cardinals would play seven home night games, winning three.
Their first home night win occurred on a Tuesday, July 2, 1940, when right-hander Bill McGee pitched a seven-hit shutout and contributed a two-run single, beating the Reds, 4-0, before 14,944. Boxscore
A look at the Cardinals’ other five night home games in 1940:
_ Harry Danning had three hits, including two doubles, and a RBI for the Giants in an 8-6, 11-inning victory on Thursday night July 11 before 10,363. Boxscore
_ Hugh Mulcahy pitched a five-hit shutout in a 3-0 Phillies win on Wednesday night July 17 before 7,113. Boxscore
_ Joe Orengo tied the score with a solo home run in the bottom of the ninth and the Cardinals got a run in the 11th to beat the Pirates, 7-6, on Wednesday night Aug. 14 before 11,077. Boxscore
_ Al Glossop had two RBI and rookie Nick Strincevich pitched a five-hitter, leading the Braves to a 3-1 triumph on Monday night Aug. 26 before 8,472. Boxscore
_ Johnny Mize and Marty Marion each had two RBI, lifting the Cardinals to a 4-2 win over the Cubs on Wednesday night Sept. 4 before 16,197. Boxscore