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Comiskey Park

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Comiskey Park
The Baseball Palace of the World

Location Chicago, Illinois
Opened July 1, 1910
Closed September 30, 1990
Demolished 1991
Owner Chicago White Sox
Surface Grass

Artificial infield (1969-1976)

Construction cost $750,000 USD;
Architect Zachary Taylor Davis, Osborn Engineering
Former names White Sox Park (1910-1912), (1962-1975)
Tenants
Chicago White Sox (MLB) (1910-1990)
Chicago Cubs (1918 (World Series)
Chicago Cardinals (NFL) (1922-1925), (1929-1958)
Chicago American Giants (1941-1952) (Negro Leagues)
Chicago Mustangs (NASL) (1968)
Chicago Sting (NASL) (1980-1985)
Capacity
32,000 (1910)
52,000 (1927)
Dimensions
(1910)

Left Field - 363 ft
Deep Left Center - 382 ft
Center Field - 420 ft
Deep Right Center - 382 ft
Right Field - 363 ft
Backstop - 98 ft

(1986)
Left Field - 347 ft
Deep Left Center - 382 ft
Center Field - 409 ft
Deep Right Center - 382 ft
Right Field - 347 ft
Backstop - 86 ft

This article is about the original Comiskey Park. For the current stadium that carried this name, see U.S. Cellular Field.

Comiskey Park (35th Street & Shields Avenue, Chicago, Illinois) was the ballpark in which the Chicago White Sox played from 1910 to 1990. It was built by Charles Comiskey and was the site of four World Series (one of which was played by the Chicago Cubs due to lack of seating at Wrigley Field) and more than 6,000 major league games.

The successor to Comiskey Park was also named Comiskey Park (or "new" Comiskey Park) until 2003, when it was renamed U.S. Cellular Field.

Early yearsEdit

The park was built on a former city dump that Comiskey bought in 1909 to replace the wooden South Side Park. Comiskey Park was very modern for its time, being constructed of concrete and steel and seating 29,000, a record at the time. Briefly, it retained the nickname "The Baseball Palace of the World." The park's design was strongly influenced by Sox pitcher Ed Walsh, and was known for its pitcher-friendly proportions (362 feet to the foul poles, 420 feet down the middle). Later changes were made, but the park remained more or less favorable to defensive teams. For many years this reflected on the White Sox style of play: solid defense, and short, quick hits. The 1959 American League Most Valuable Player, Nellie Fox, who led the White Sox to the 1959 American League championship, was known for his frequent hit production.

The first game in Comiskey Park was a 2-0 loss to the St. Louis Browns on July 1, 1910. The last game at Comiskey was a win, 2-1, over Seattle on September 30, 1990. The White Sox won their first-ever home night game, over St. Louis on August 14, 1939, 5-2.

World SeriesEdit

Comiskey Park was the site of four World Series. In 1917, the Chicago White Sox won games 1, 2 and 5 at Comiskey Park and went on to defeat the New York Giants four games to two. It was the last Championship for the White Sox for 88 years.

In 1918 Comiskey Park hosted the World Series between the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox. The Cubs borrowed Comiskey Park for the series due to its larger seating capacity. The Red Sox defeated the Cubs five games to one (best of nine series). Games one, two and three were played at Comiskey Park. The Red Sox won games one and three. It was the last Championship for the Red Sox for 86 years.

In 1919 the White Sox lost the infamous "Black Sox" World Series to the Cincinnati Reds, five games to three. Games three, four, five and eight were played at Comiskey Park. The White Sox won game three and lost games five and eight.

In 1959 the White Sox lost four games to two to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Games one, two and six were played at Comiskey Park. The White Sox won game one and lost games two and six.

All-Star GamesEdit

Comiskey Park was the site of three Major League Baseball All-Star Games, and each of them marked a turn in the direction of dominance by one league or the other:

  • The first-ever MLB All-Star Game was held there in 1933. It began as a promotion by Arch Ward, sports editor of the Chicago Tribune, in connection with the 1933 Century of Progress Exposition being held on Chicago's lakefront. Comiskey was said to have been chosen over Wrigley Field by coin toss. The Americans defeated the Nationals, helped in part by a home run by Babe Ruth, who was nearing the end of his career, but could still swing a mighty bat. The game also inaugurated a stretch when the Americans dominated, winning 12 of the first 16 (skipping 1945 due to wartime travel restrictions).
  • The park next hosted the July classic in 1950, a game unfortunately best remembered for Ted Williams' collision with the outfield wall that broke his elbow and ended his playing season. Less remembered is that it began a turnaround for the Nationals, who won the game in extra innings and started to win frequently, a trend that continued for more than three decades, building up an astounding 30 wins against only 6 losses and 1 tie (from 1959-1962, two games were held each year).
  • The 50th Anniversary All-Star Game in 1983 fittingly was held at Comiskey Park. The Americans' lopsided win, including the first-ever grand slam in All-Star Game action, by Fred Lynn, turned out to signal an end to the Nationals' crushing dominance in the mid-summer game. During the last 8 years of the park's existence the Americans went 5-3, and they have continued to win much more often than not since then, as of 2005. Hosting a winning All-Star Game was also a good omen for the Sox, as they won their division in 1983, the first baseball title of any kind in Chicago since the Sox won the 1959 pennant.

FansEdit

From the 1970s until its demolition in 1991, Comiskey was the oldest park still in use in Major League Baseball. Many of its known characteristics, such as the pinwheels on the scoreboard (see photo), were installed by Bill Veeck (owner of the White Sox from 1959 to 1961, and again from 1975 to 1981). For thirty years from 1960 to 1990, Sox fans were also entertained by Andy the Clown, famous for his famous Jerry Colonna-like elongated cry, "Come ooooooooooon, go! White! Sox!". Starting in the 1970s, Sox fans were further entertained by organist Nancy Faust who picked up on, and reinforced, the spontaneous chants of fans who were singing tunes like, "We will, we will, SOX YOU!" and the now-ubiquitous farewell to departing pitchers and ejected managers, "Na-na-na-na, na-na-na-na, hey-hey, GOOD-BYE!" And before he became an institution on the north side, Sox broadcaster Harry Caray was a south side icon. At some point he started "conducting" Take Me Out to the Ball Game during the seventh-inning stretch, egged on by Veeck, who (according to Harry himself) said that the fans would sing along when they realized that none of them sang any worse than Harry did!

TransitionsEdit

Comiskey Park was officially renamed White Sox Park from 1962 to 1975 after the last Comiskey stockholders sold their remaining shares. When Bill Veeck re-acquired the team, he restored the original name... and took out the center field fence, reverting to the original distance to the wall (posted as 440 in the 1940s, re-measured as 445 in the 1970s)... a tough target, but reachable by Rich sluggers like Allen and Zisk and other members of a team that was tagged "The South Side Hit Men". They were long removed from their days as "The Hitless Wonders". During that time the ballpark also featured a lounge where one could buy mixed drinks. This prompted some writers to dub Comiskey "Chicago's Largest Outdoor Saloon".

For a number of years, off and on, the Chicago Cardinals football team called Comiskey Park home when they weren't playing at Normal Park or Soldier Field. The stadium also presented boxing matches, including World Heavyweight Championship bouts featuring Joe Louis, Floyd Patterson and Sonny Liston. One of its more ignominious events was Disco Demolition Night, a fiasco that forced the White Sox to forfeit the second game of a doubleheader.

Final yearsEdit

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During the last 8 years of its existence, Comiskey's annual attendance surpassed the 2 million mark three times, including the final season when the team contended for much of the year before losing the division title to the Oakland Athletics.

White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf received more than $200 million in public financing for the new stadium after threatening to move the club to St. Petersburg, Florida. The stadium now called Tropicana Field was constructed by officials in St. Petersburg in an effort to lure the White Sox to Florida. The deal was sealed in a last-minute legislative maneuver by then-governor James R. Thompson.[1]

Comiskey Park was demolished in 1991, a process that started from behind the right field corner, and took all summer. The last portion to come down was the center field bleachers and the "exploding" scoreboard. The site of the old park was turned into a parking lot to serve those attending games at the new Comiskey Park (later renamed U.S. Cellular Field).

LegacyEdit

Bill Veeck once remarked that "There is no more beautiful sight in the world than a ballpark full of people!" On its best days, Comiskey was stuffed to the gills, with 55,000 people or more lining the aisles and even standing for nine (or eighteen) innings on the sloping ramps that criss-crossed behind the scoreboard. The nearly-fully enclosed stands had a way of capturing and reverberating the noise without any artificial enhancement. As a Chicago sportswriter once remarked, "Wrigley Field yayed and Comiskey Park roared."

'Old' Comiskey's home plate is a marble plaque on the sidewalk next to U.S. Cellular Field, and the field is a parking lot. Foul lines are painted on the lot. Also, the spectator ramp across 35th Street is designed in such a way (partly curved, partly straight but angling east-northeast) that it echoes the outline of part of the old grandstand.

When the Sox won the 2005 World Series, their victory parade began at U.S. Cellular Field, and then circled the block where old Comiskey had stood, before heading on a route through various south side neighborhoods and toward the downtown.

ReferencesEdit

  1. "White Sox Fill The Bill", AP Article from June 7, 1988, from the New York Times archives

External linksEdit


Preceded by:
South Side Park
19011910
Home of the
Chicago White Sox
19101990
Followed by:
U.S. Cellular Field
1991–present
Preceded by:
First
Host of the All-Star Game
1933
Succeeded by:
Polo Grounds
Preceded by:
Ebbets Field
Host of the All-Star Game
1950
Succeeded by:
Briggs Stadium
Preceded by:
Olympic Stadium
Host of the All-Star Game
1983
Succeeded by:
Candlestick Park


Preceded by:
Normal Park
19201921
Home of the
Chicago Cardinals
19221925
Followed by:
Normal Park
19261928


Preceded by:
Normal Park
19261928
Home of the
Chicago Cardinals
19291958
Followed by:
Soldier Field
1959

Coordinates: 41°49′55″N, 087°38′01″W

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