20 Years Later: Our Last Stop, Another Very Familiar Place
Wednesday, September 6, 2000
Texas Rangers vs. Chicago White Sox
Starting Pitchers: Rick Helling vs. Kip Wells
Time of Game: 2 hours 41 minutes
Final Score: White Sox 13, Rangers 1
After spending one last night on the road in Belleville, Michigan, it was time to pack up our belongings for the final game of the trip. We had a busy day planned ahead of us in Chicago. Following breakfast, we boarded the bus and threw in one last video. This one was about Bill Veeck, the former owner of the Chicago White Sox in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Veeck owned the team on two separate occasions. He was the pioneer of unique, and periodically, controversial promotions. Scoreboards with fireworks are commonplace in sports these days, but Veeck was the man who brought the concept of an exploding scoreboard to baseball. He did it on Chicago's south side at old Comiskey Park.
When we arrived in Chicago, we had special lunch waiting for us at Harry Caray's Restaurant. It was a nice and relaxing lunch where we just sat down, reminisced about the trip, and just talked baseball. Following lunch, everyone broke up and hit various tourist stops. Seeing I was home now, I opted to leisurely wander. I did stop at Portillo's for a chocolate cake shake. After a few hours, it was time to find the bus and drive to Comiskey Park.
Outside the ballpark, I was called upon one more time to serve as the local tour guide and historian. Again, I gladly accepted. Despite being a Cubs fan, I did have extensive knowledge about White Sox history. I told the group that most of the reviews of the new Comiskey Park were negative. The park opened at the start of the 1991 season and was a stark contrast to the old place. Where old Comiskey Park was dark green and enclosed, the new park was larger and an ocean of blue. Blue seats, blue walls, blue batter's eye. Just a lot of blue. People complained about the upper deck. The first row of the upper deck was higher than the top row of old Comiskey Park's upper deck. In retrospect, I hope most of the people had a chance to return over the last decade. New Comiskey Park, now called U.S. Cellular Field, is vastly improved. The blue has been removed and replaced with green, the upper deck was altered to not be as steep. It offers a much better experience than it used to.
Before we entered the park, we made a quick stop in the parking lot across the street. That was the site of old Comiskey Park. We looked at the monument, a marker that designates the location of the old home plate. I shared one of my favorite stories about the old place (read the first comment under this blog for details).
The game was a slugfest. The White Sox scored seven runs in the bottom of the first and never looked back. During that game, the White Sox hit four home runs, so the scoreboard and fireworks were going off all night. Our seats were in the bleachers for this game, so we were just in front of the scoreboard. I told the group about the pinwheels atop the scoreboard and how they were a design that was brought over from the old park. The colorful circles were a part of the first exploding scoreboard that Bill Veeck designed back in the 1960s.
At the conclusion of the game, we piled on the bus and headed back to the Exel Inn in Elk Grove Village. Everybody stayed one more night, but being the only local on the trip, I said goodbye to everyone and drove home. As I mentioned in my last blog, I could not believe how quickly the trip flew by. But in the end, it was a great trip. When I started this trip, I had only seen three teams play in their home ballparks - the Cubs, White Sox and Cardinals. Now I could add the Pirates, Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays and Tigers to that list. That's nine of the 30 teams.
Apparently, I didn't take any photos at the Rangers/White Sox game. I don't recall if I ran out of film or not.
If anyone is interested, these tours are still running. Just visit the website for details.