Essential Pittsburgh
5:02 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Night Football Returns To Its Place of Origin

The 1892 Mansfield football team hosted the first night game.
The 1892 Mansfield football team hosted the first night game.
Credit Mansfield University Blog

One hundred and twenty-one years ago the first night football game was played in Mansfield, Pennsylvania. The game was between Mansfield University formerly known as Mansfield State and Wyoming Seminary.

The teams played with the help of a new promotional lighting device from General Electric, the light bulb. The setup involved a string of lights wrapped around a wooden pole placed in the middle of the field.

Steve McCloskey, Director of Athletic Operations and Sports Information, says the lighting post “proved to be a detriment” to the game, as multiple “players ran face first into the pole because they had trouble seeing it, or it just kind of snuck up on them.”

Another problem was that players couldn’t tell each other apart in the darkness.

“No one could tell whose side anybody was on or who was a referee. The players were tackling their own players; players were tackling the officials. The field was strewn…with let’s say animal residue,” McCloskey explained. The game ended scoreless at halftime as the teams “agreed to call the game because it was inconvenient to continue.”

For the first time since that game, Mansfield University is playing a night football game against Princeton University Saturday September 14, 2013 at 7:35 PM.

Some people wonder what took so long for Mansfield University to get lighting for their field, but the answer seems understandable. 

“Things didn’t work out 121 years ago,” says McCloskey “There were some technology challenges. We are now confident after 121 years that those challenges have been addressed, this electricity is here to stay, the concept of night football has…finally reached its time.”