‘Cosmic Baseball’ is a real hit, with Tri-City Chili Peppers black lighting it up, and topping Greenbrier Knights, 9-4

First ever ‘Cosmic Baseball’ game was unbelievably awesome
Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports, By Steve DelVecchio, and from YardBarker.com/www.yardbarker.com

A collegiate summer league baseball team hosted the first ever “Cosmic Baseball” game over the weekend, and it is easy to see why the event was considered a massive success.

The Tri-City Chili Peppers on Saturday night hosted fellow Virginia-based team Greenbrier Knights for a concept called “Cosmic Baseball,” which it appears they created. The two teams played under black lights and everything pertinent to the game (uniforms, equipment, bases, etc) glowed in the dark. It all looked something like this.

You can see another video of the moment the regular ballpark lights were turned off and the black lights were turned on. It looks like something straight out of the future.

The Chili Peppers beat Greenbrier 9-4. Tri-City is hosting three more cosmic baseball games on June 15, June 28 and July 20. All three games have sold out, so the team has a waitlist for tickets. The unique concept is clearly a hit.

MLB.com’s Jason Foster took an in-depth look at the concept and its journey from idea to reality.

‘Cosmic Baseball’ to illuminate the game like never before
Jason Foster

Chili Peppers baseball under neon lights

There’s nothing quite like a warm summer night and baseball under the lights. But what about a warm summer night and baseball under no lights? Or, at least, a warm summer night and baseball under different lights? That’s probably the best way to describe what’s about to happen in Colonial Heights, Va.

The Tri-City Chili Peppers, a college summer team in the Coastal Plain League, will forge into a new era on June 1, when they will host what they’ve dubbed Cosmic Baseball — a baseball game played under black lights. That means a glowing ball, glowing bats, glowing bases, glowing uniforms, glowing … well, just about everything.

It’s believed to be the first organized sporting event to be played entirely under black lights and has drawn quite the spotlight. Despite assumptions one might have about such an event — assumptions perhaps accompanied by safety concerns — it’s nearly a risk-free proposition. Or, as risk-free as any baseball game can be.

“It’s actually a lighter atmosphere than what most people would think,” said Chris Martin, owner of the Chili Peppers. “You can see everything extremely well.”

Martin’s matter-of-fact assurance comes with a mix of experience and expertise. This event has been more than a year and more than $100,000 in the making, with a prelude that featured a team of lighting professionals, extensive testing, lots of trial and error and a healthy amount of real-world glowing baseball practice.

In other words, it’s not just a shot in the dark.

From glow sticks to a lightbulb moment

This all started one night last season with a typical between-innings occurrence: The Chili Peppers threw glow sticks into the stands to give fans another layer of fun during the game. Naturally, the glow sticks were a hit.

“I’m watching it, and I’m like, ‘Hey, this is really cool, but it’s also kinda not very cool because the lights are on,” Martin said. “I was like, ‘It would be really cool if we could turn the lights off, and then you would actually see everybody’s sticks waving around and having a little bit of fun with it.”

But the roughly 2,000-capacity Shepherd Stadium, where the Chili Peppers play, doesn’t have the fancy LED lights that can be quickly turned on and off. So Martin pondered black lights, but those would only work if the stadium’s regular lights were off. And, again, turning those lights off and then on again could cause an unnecessary delay and disrupt the game.

Then a mental light bulb went on.

“Why don’t we just turn off the lights in general, and see if we can play baseball with black lights?” Martin thought.

In his initial research, Martin found no instances of baseball played under black lights. He couldn’t find examples in other sports, either. Individuals did things like knock tennis balls around under black lights, but, as Martin put it, “It was just guys messing around.”

So he reached out to local lighting company J.W. Electric to see whether it was possible to light a baseball stadium with black lights. J.W. Electric was intrigued, and that led to various other conversations within the industry. The feedback was almost universal.

It’s not possible.

In theory, Martin was told, it would require dozens and dozens of black lights, perhaps even hundreds — and probably a lot more money than Martin was willing to spend — but in reality, it just wasn’t doable. So that was that.

“I thought it was dead,” Martin said.

That is, until Chad Lawson came along.

Lawson, a manufacturer’s rep with Federated Lighting in Richmond, Va., was the only one willing to give the idea a serious go and work with Martin and J.W. Electric to find a solution.

“When they approached me with the idea, I jumped on it,” Lawson said. “When he used the term ‘Cosmic Baseball,’ it just kind of clicked for me. I was like, ‘This could be something really big; really cool.'”

Still, it took a long time. So long that Martin had moved on from the idea when he got a call from Lawson about six months later. Lawson found a manufacturer to develop a single prototype black light, and he delivered it to Martin, though nobody involved had any idea what to expect.

“I was very transparent with him from the beginning,” Lawson said. “I said, ‘This really hasn’t been done before, so I can’t make any promises.'”

But then …

“The results were astounding,” Lawson said, noting that the one light was more than sufficient to cover an entire section of infield bleachers.

Martin was amazed, too.

“I looked at this thing and was like, ‘Aw, man, we could actually play baseball with this.’ I was throwing balls up as high as I could and catching [them] with my bare hand,” he said. “I was like, ‘Man, we could do this. Let’s see how many we can install.'”

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