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Comiskey Park

By Wikipedia

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 over 6,000 major league games.

At a glance...
Facility statistics
Location Chicago, Illinois
Opened July 1, 1910
Closed September 20, 1990
Demolished 1991
Owner Chicago White Sox
Replaced South Side Park III
Replaced by New Comiskey Park
Construction George W. Jackson
Surface Grass (Artificial infield
Construction cost $750,000 (1910)
Architect Zachary Taylor Davis,
Osborn Engineering
White Sox (MLB '10-'90)
Cardinals (NFL '22-25; 29-59)
Seating capacity
32,000 (1910)
52,000 (1927)
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

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
Fout territory: Large

One of the last of the truly historic parks (along with Tiger Stadium, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, and Wrigley Field), White Sox Park opened in July of 1910. It was renamed Comiskey Park in 1912 at the request of the owner, Charles Comiskey. However, it reverted to the name "White Sox Park" from 1962-1975.

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.

Fly to the Old Comiskey Park!
If you have Google Earth installed, click here to be "flown" to the site of old Comiskey Park. (If you do not have it installed, get it from Google. It allows you to view virtually anywhere on Earth in 3D using satellite imagery.)

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 lost their first-ever night game to St. Louis in 1939, 5-2.

Comiskey Park was the site of the first-ever Major League All-Star Game, in 1933. It was also the site of the 50th Anniversary All-Star Game in 1983. Fittingly perhaps, the American League's lopsided win began the return of the Americans' strength in the All-Star Game, which had been dominated by the Nationals for the better part of the previous three decades.

From the Super70s 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 Carayhad became 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!

Comiskey Park was officially renamed White Sox Park from 1962 to 1975 after the last Comiskey stockholder had sold their remaining shares. The new owners installed Astroturf in 1969 (they called it "Sox Sod"), but only in the infield. It was thus the only major league field to be both natural grass and turf. That bizarre experiment came to an end when Bill Veeck (as in wreck) reacquired the team in 1976 and restored order (and the name Comiskey Park).

Veeck also took out the center field fence, reverting to the original 440-plus distance to the wall... a tough target, but reachable by sluggers like Dick Allen and Richie 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".

Old Comiskey!

Old Comiskey Park with Veeck's exploding scoreboard as seen in 1990.

Photo by Rick Dikeman.

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 threatened instead to demolish the ballpark itself.

07/01/1910 Browns 2, White Sox 0
Umpires Tommy Connolly, Bill Dineen
Managers Hugh Duffy, White Sox
  Jack O'Connor, Browns
Starting Pitchers Ed Walsh, White Sox
  Barney Pelty, Browns
Ceremonial Pitch None
Attendance 24,900
Batter George Stone (double)
Hit George Stone (double)
Run Frank Treusdale
RBI George Stone
Single Frank Truesdale
Double George Stone
Triple Patsy Dougherty
Home Run Lee Tannehill (07/31/1910)
Grand Slam Lee Tannehill (07/31/1910)
IPHR Clyde Milan (05/11/1911)
Stolen Base Shano Collins
Sacrifice Hit Roy Hartzell
Sacrifice Fly Art Griggs (07/05/1910)
Cycle Baby Doll Jacobson (04/17/1924)
Win Barney Pelty
Loss Ed Walsh
Shutout Barney Pelty
Save N/A
Hit by Pitch Farmer Ray hit Lena Blackburne
Wild Pitch Joe Lake (07/05/1910)
Balk Ed Walsh (08/04/1910)
No-Hitter Ed Walsh (08/27/1911)
Primary research by Jim Herdman & David Vincent
Courtesy of Retrosheet

From a modern perspective, it seems that the White Sox are always second fiddle to the Cubs, and likewise the Cardinals were second fiddle to the Bears before they moved on to greener pastures. It is surprising, then, to discover that the White Sox were the more popular team in town for pockets of their history.

In the early years of Comiskey Park, the White Sox regularly outdrew the Cubs. The throwing of the 1919 World Series seemed to take the starch out of the franchise for decades. But the Sox were a contender during the early 1950s and into the mid 1960s, and once again outdrew the perpetually inept Cubs. During the last 8 years of its existence, Comiskey's annual turnstile counts reached the 3 million mark 3 times, including the final season when the team contended for much of the year before fading behind the powerful Oakland Athletics.

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 someone once remarked, "Wrigley Field yayed and Comiskey Park roared."

Comiskey was demolished in 1991, a process that started from behind the right field corner, and took all summer. It was downright painful for old-time fans to watch. The last portion to come down, fittingly, was the center field bleachers and the "exploding" scoreboard. The demise of the old park made way for its successor across 35th Street of the same name (later renamed U.S. Cellular Field). Some Sox fans believed that the move was unnecessary, but owner Jerry Reinsdorf was at the time threatening to move the club to Tampa Bay (the stadium now called Tropicana Field was constructed for this purpose), and the local and state governments went along by giving them funds for the new stadium.

'Old' Comiskey's home plate is a bronze plaque on the sidewalk next to U.S. Cellular Field, and the field is a parking lot.

Buy at
Comiskey Park - Chicago (new)
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Related Books on Ballparks
The Ballpark Book: A Journey Through the Fields of Baseball Magic by Ron Smith and Kevin Belford.
Ballpark: The Story of America's Baseball Fields by Lynn Curlee
Ballparks: A Panoramic History by Marc Sandalow and Jim Sutton.
Ballparks by Robert Von Goeben and Red Howard.
Ballparks: Then & Now by Eric Enders.
Baseball Vacations: Great Family Trips to Minor League and Classic Major League Ballbarks Across America by Bruce Adams and Margaret Engel.
Blue Skies, Green Fields: A Celebration of 50 Major League Baseball Stadiums by Ira Rosen.
Diamonds: The Evolution of the Ballpark by Michael Gershman.
Fields of Dreams: A Guide to Visiting and Enjoying All 30 Major League Ballparks by Jay Ahuja
Green Cathedrals: The Ultimate Celebration of All Major League and Negro League Ballparks by Philip J. Lowry.
Joe Mock's Ballpark Guide by Joe Mock.
Lost Ballparks: A Celebration of Baseball's Legendary Fields by Lawrence S. Ritter.
Roadside Baseball: A Guide to Baseball Shrines Across America by Chris Epting.
Take Me Out to the Ballpark: An Illustrated Tour of Baseball Parks Past and Present by Josh Leventhal and Jessica Macmurray.
The Ultimate Baseball Road-Trip: A Fan's Guide to Major League Stadiums by Joshua Pahigian and Kevin O'Connell.
Video: Story of America's Classic Ballparks
Video: Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns

Economics of Stadiums
City Baseball Magic: Plain Talk and Uncommon Sense about Cities and Baseball Parks by Philip Bess.
Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit by Joanna Cagan and Neil deMause.
Public Dollars, Private Stadiums: The Battle over Building Sports Stadiums by Kevin J. Delaney and Rick Eckstein.
Sports, Jobs, and Taxes: The Economic Impact of Sports Teams and Stadiums by Roger G. Noll and Andrew Zimbalist.

General Stadium Reference:
Sports Staff of USA Today. The Complete 4 Sport Stadium Guide. Fodor's, 1996.

Stadium Design and Financing References:
Philip Bess. City Baseball Magic: Plain Talk and Uncommon Sense about Cities and Baseball Parks. Knothole Press, 1999.
Joanna Cagan and Neil deMause. Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit. Common Courage Press, 1998.
Mark S. Rosentraub. Major League Losers: The Real Cost of Sports and Who's Paying for It. HarperCollins, 1997.
Kevin J. Delaney, Rick Eckstein. Public Dollars, Private Stadiums: The Battle over Building Sports Stadiums. Rutgers University Press, 2004.
Roger G. Noll and Andrew Zimbalist. Sports, Jobs, and Taxes: The Economic Impact of Sports Teams and Stadiums. Brookings Institution, 1997.
Dean V. Baim. The Sports Stadium as a Municipal Investment. Greenwood Publishing, 1994.
Stadia: A Design and Development Guide by Geraint John and Rod Sheard. Architectural Press, 2000.
Michelle Provoost, Matthjis Bouw and Camiel Van Winkel. The Stadium: Architecture of Mass Sport. NAI Publishers, 2000.

Related Books on Comiskey Park:
Baseball Palace of the World: The Last Year of Comiskey Park by Douglas Bukowski.
Comiskey Park (Images of Baseball series) by Irwin J. Cohen.
Goodbye Old Friend: A Pictorial Essay on the Final Season at Old Comiskey Park by Frank Budreck, John Regnier and Tim MacWilliams.
Park Life: The Summer of 1977 at Comiskey Park by Peter Elliott. 

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Chicago White Sox president Charles Comiskey in 1907, standing behind wooden wall supported by wooden beams at South Side Park, predecessor to Comiskey Park.

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division

Year by Year statistics: for Comiskey Park

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from this Wikipedia article, which is probably more up to date than ours (retrieved August 12, 2005).

With the exception of the Wikipedia article above, everything else is...

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