Tom Pierett is a contributing author to "Let There Be Light", a book chronicling the evolution of night baseball.
By JACK MARRION
Tom Pierett vividly remembers attending games as a child at Crosley Field, former home ballpark of the Cincinnati Reds.
Moments of sitting on the Sun Deck bleachers in right field, watching Wally Post hit a home run or Frank Robinson make a catch running up the famed terrace in left became indelible memories.
Pierett is not alone in his appreciation for Crosley Field, but few have had an opportunity to portray the significance of the historic venue. He does so as a contributing author to "Let There Be Light: A History of Night Baseball 1880-2008". The book conveys the evolution of night baseball, focusing on the first night game in Major League Baseball on May 24, 1935 at Crosley Field.
Robert B. Payne, whose father Earl D. Payne was one of the lead engineers on the Crosley Field lights project, authored "Let There Be Light" and sought the assistance of Pierett who contributed four chapters to the 196-page book.
"With the exception of one of my own reminiscences it took some research, going to a couple college libraries to research old newspapers and magazines," said Pierett, who teaches history and U.S. government at Magnolia Independent School District's Alpha Academy. "Essentially we compiled this over the Internet. Although I've talked to Bob many times I've never shook his hand or met him in person. That's the amazing thing about computer life today. You can get together with somebody you don't know and write a book."
It was Pierett's fondness for baseball and the Crosley Field of his youth that linked him to Payne.
Pierett had previously submitted essays and photos to www.crosley-field.com, a tribute site run by Charles Foertmeyer.
Foertmeyer recommended Pierett to Payne and the combined effort was published in January in time for the 75th anniversary of the first major league night game.
Pierett contributed chapters covering the history of night baseball, the life of industrialist and Reds owner Powel Crosley, the installation of lights at Wrigley Field and his own memories of Crosley Field.
"In the section I wrote about night baseball, they had been trying this since about 1880," Pierett said. "You can imagine in 1880 and how primitive that was, how dim the light was, either trying to string lights from poles or primitive towers. It was tried in number of places but the first night game in 1935 at Crosley Field was considered to be the first official."
Pierett said he believes Payne authored the book to leave a legacy for his father, who also took several photos of the historic night that are included in print.
The book was a labor of love for both. Pierett, a native of Middleton, Ohio, delighted in writing about a subject so close to his heart.
"It really takes me back to a completely different era that I can see vividly," Pierett said. "I remember my first time going to Crosley Field. The thing that struck me was color green grass, green outfield wall, big scoreboard, the Reds in these pristine white uniforms and red socks. It was beautiful."
Pierett has lived in Texas for almost 30 years, moving from Spring to Magnolia in 2000. He recently finished his 10th year as a teacher with Magnolia ISD, spending the first five years at Magnolia High School. The majority of Pierett's periodical research for "Let There Be Light" took place at Sam Houston State University, which he attended. He supplements information gathered from books and other sources.
Pierett wrote from experience for one chapter of the book, including recollections of Crosley Field's final game on July 24, 1970.
He attended that game and returned two days later to take photos of the ballpark.
Crosley Field's last days have connections to the Houston Astros, who played in what was intended to be its final game in 1969 before construction delays affected the opening of Riverfront Stadium.
The Astros also paid homage to Crosley's left-field terrace with Tal's Hill in center field at Minute Maid Park.
Cincinnati and Crosley Field hold a significant place in baseball history, from the first professional baseball team (prior to Crosley) to the Black Sox scandal.
As contributor to "Let There Be Light", Pierett has a part in his favorite venue's finest moment.